A bold and brash student at the University of California Santa Cruz developed an app called “Banana Plug” to sell cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms and other drugs. The app, which was available on Apple’s App Store as recently as Tuesday, also invited users to make special requests, federal prosecutors for the Northern District of California announced Tuesday.
Collin Riley Howard, 18, of Sunnyvale, also hung posters around campus, unabashedly advertising his service to the university’s 18,000 students during an 11-day span in November when he possessed and distributed cocaine and methamphetamine, prosecutors allege.
After finding the posters on campus, a UC Santa Cruz police officer and an undercover Homeland Security Investigations special agent used the app to buy marijuana and cocaine. The transaction was then finalized using Snapchat, federal prosecutors said.
The undercover agent then arranged three additional transactions of controlled substances, including more than 5 grams of methamphetamine. Howard was arrested on Feb. 15 by campus police before the money exchanged hands during the fourth arranged meeting, prosecutors said.
The name of the app is an apparent reference to the university’s banana slug mascot, a “bright yellow, slimy, shell-less mollusk” typically found on forest floors throughout the Pacific Northwest, according to the school’s website. In 2008, ESPN named the Banana Slugs one of the country’s best team nicknames, according to university officials.
The school’s mascot, Sammy the Slug, regularly appears at sporting events and other functions on campus since becoming its official mascot in 1986. Actor John Travolta gave the yellow mollusk a huge popularity boost in the 1994 classic “Pulp Fiction” when he wore a T-shirt featuring the slug wearing glasses while reading Plato.
Howard made his initial court appearance Tuesday on charges of distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. He’s due back in court on Friday and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The “Banana Plug” app was no longer available on Apple’s App Store as of Thursday. A message seeking comment from Apple was not immediately returned.
Scott Hernandez-Jason, a UC Santa Cruz spokesman, confirmed to The Post that Howard is no longer a student at the university. He did not respond to additional inquiries, including when campus officials first learned of the allegations and when Howard was removed from campus.