Stuffed Mail Intercepts Hit Another High
Postal Inspection Service ended fiscal year 2013 on a high, intercepting 20 percent more pot packed parcels and tallying 14 percent more arrests and indictments for mailing controlled substances than in the preceding year.
Marijuana is far and away the most common drug intercepted by inspectors. In fiscal timberland outlet year 2013 marijuana intercepts comprised 68 percent of 13,389 drug timberland outlet related seizures, up from 67 percent of 11,322 seizures the year before. The overall figures include trafficking proceeds.
Postal inspectors, often in cooperation with local and other national law enforcement agencies, secured 2,622 arrests and indictments for mailing controlled substances in fiscal year 2013, up from 2,299 arrests and indictments the preceding year.
The inspectors recently began tabulating arrests and indictments together. In previous years only arrests were recorded in year end reports. The number of arrests in fiscal year 2012 1,760 was 33 percent higher than the preceding year and up 200 percent from 2006.
It’s unclear if the increase in intercepts reflects an increase in shipments or merely better detection methods.
In addition to more traditional drug dealers, the Silk Road online drug marketplace founded in 2011 became a household name last year, with sellers using the mail system to deliver Internet placed orders. Silk Road was taken offline by the FBI in October after more than 100,000 satisfied customers bought drugs. Postal Service is the preferred carrier for many drug shippers because it offers more stringent Fourth Amendment protection. Postal inspectors must acquire a search warrant based on probable cause before inspecting First Class mail and parcels. FedEx and UPS both specify in their terms of service that they reserve the right to open and inspect any package at their own discretion. That low bar for corporate carriers may be creeping higher the California Supreme Court ruled in 2013, for example, that local police should have acquired a warrant before opening a FedEx package emitting a pungent odor of weed.
There’s no apparent successor to Silk Road, but liberalized drug laws may contribute to a sustained upswing timberland outlet in intercepts. Postal inspectors seized 15 marijuana packages shipped from Colorado in 2010 and 209 in the first five months of 2013 before recreational pot stores opened there, but after legalization for personal use The Denver Post reported.
Krenn is reluctant to describe the service’s most effective drug detection methods, which reportedly include drug sniffing dogs and package profiling, saying, “If we gave you any detail . they will build a better package.”
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But he says a postal worker’s nose isn’t the most effective tool.
“There are other substances that smell like pot,” Krenn says. “It’s very possible for a letter to smell like something when it is not.”
During a Thursday Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R Alaska, said there is rampant drug abuse in some of her state’s most remote communities where, she said, the only way to get illegal drugs was through the mail.