TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A 20-year-old man surnamed Chen (陳) has been arrested in Taichung after posting guns for sale on the instant messaging service Telegram, police said on Monday (Nov. 20).
Police said after they became aware of the man listing the firearms for sale, an officer posed as a potential buyer, per CNA. In October, police met Chen at a location agreed to on the messaging app, where they arrested him in possession of a modified pistol, pistol and rifle ammunition, and other stolen goods.
Police said Chen agreed to sell the officer what he said was a military-type rifle for NT$400,000 (US$12,650) and a pistol for NT$120,000. Chen lied about the specifications of the weapons he was selling, which actually had a market value of about NT$30,000 to NT$50,000, police said.
Investigations revealed that Chen was working under a group that trades guns online. Police said the chat groups used to post the weapons made them difficult to trace, and their source is still under investigation.
Critics have accused Telegram’s operators of poor moderation. A 2022 Wired article stated that Telegram “exercises virtually no content moderation, except to take down illegal pornography and calls for violence.”
A screenshot of the Telegram group where the weapons were posted shows what Chen offered for sale. (Taipei Police Department image)