(Credit: Anatoliy Babiy/iStock)

Collin Riley Howard, a UC Santa Cruz student, was indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges last week for distribution and possession with the intent to distribute drugs like meth and cocaine. The twist? Howard, 18, developed an iPhone app to help him.

Between Nov. 7 and Nov. 28 of last year, the Banana Plug app allegedly advertised the sale of illegal substances and allowed customers to make special requests, according to a press release Tuesday from the US Attorney's Office.

Banana Plug, which reportedly advertised itself as a game, appears to have been removed from the App Store. Players would tap tiles that swapped between images of bananas and plugs. The goal was to clear the screen on bananas. The app's description said "We have what you want," Apple Insider reported.

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The App Store guidelines strictly prohibits any app "facilitating the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies)." Apple didn't immediately respond for comment.

Howard organized purchases through the app, Snapchat and posters on the Santa Cruz campus, whose mascot is the Banana Slug, according to the US Attorney's Office. UC Santa Cruz police and Homeland Security began communicating with Howard via an undercover officer. Over four transactions, the officer requested marijuana, cocaine and more than five grams of meth via the app before officials arrested Howard on Feb.15, according to the release.

Howard was released after appearing before US Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins and will have a bail review hearing Friday. Howard could face up to 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines if found guilty.

Howard couldn't immediately be reached for comment and it's unclear if he has a lawyer.

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  1. Collin Riley Howard, a UC Santa Cruz student was indicted for allegedly using the Banana Plug iOS app to conduct drug deals.
  2. The app masqueraded as a game but it's true purposes violate the App Store's policies.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.