A college freshman who prosecutors say created an app to sell drugs on campus could go to prison for decades if he's convicted

Apple/ScreenshotHoward’s app was still available through the Apple App Store Wednesday morning.
  • A San Jose, California grand jury indicted UC Santa Cruz freshman Collin Howard, 18, on four federal drug charges on Tuesday.
  • Howard was arrested in a sting operation on Friday, after undercover agents bought drugs from him, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
  • According to the press release, Howard developed an app called “Banana Slug” to sell drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, on campus.
  • The Sunnyvale teen faces decades in prison if convicted.

A University of California Santa Cruz freshman was arrested last week, after prosecutors said he sold drugs to undercover agents through a covert app he developed.

Collin Riley Howard, 18, was arrested in a sting operation last Friday, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

The Sunnyvale teen was indicted Tuesday on multiple federal drug charges that could see him face decades behind bars if convicted.

Collin HowardSanta Cruz County Sheriff’s OfficeCollin Riley Howard, 18, was arrested Friday after prosecutors say he sold drugs to undercover agents through an app he developed called ‘Banana Plug.’

According to the US Attorney’s Office, Howard developed an app, available through the Apple App Store, called “Banana Plug” to sell “contraband, including cocaine, ‘Molly,’ and ‘Shrooms,'” and “invited customers to make special requests.”

Authorities discovered posters advertising the app around campus, and a campus police officer used it to request marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine on three separate occasions.

Investigators said they messaged with Howard on Snapchat to set up the purchases.

“At the fourth meeting, UC Santa Cruz police officers arrested Howard before any payment was made,” the press release said.

Howard was arrested on Friday, and made his first court appearance on Tuesday, after a San Jose grand jury indicted him that day on four federal drug charges.


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Howard faces four different drug charges.

The first two counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison with a fine of $US1 million. The second two charges each carry a sentence of 5 to 40 years in prison, with a fine of $US5 million.

After his initial court hearing, Howard was released until his bail review hearing, which is scheduled for Friday, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Howard has not entered a plea yet.

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