Marijuana-Stuffed Mail Intercepts Hit Another High, Postal Inspectors Say
About 45,000 pounds of pot didn’t reach would-be recipients last year.
What’s in that package? It’s unclear how many packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service contain drugs, but the number of busts by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is on the upswing.
The U.S. 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.
During the fiscal year, which ended in September, inspectors confiscated 45,000 pounds of cannabis concealed within 9,100 parcels, according to Paul Krenn, an assistant inspector in charge at the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
In fiscal year 2012 inspectors found 42,000 pounds of marijuana stashed in about 7,600 parcels.
Marijuana is far and away the most common drug intercepted by inspectors. In fiscal year 2013 marijuana intercepts comprised 68 percent of 13,389 drug-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.
|Fiscal Year 2012||Fiscal Year 2013||Increase|
|Marijuana parcel intercepts||7,600||9,100||+19.7 percent|
|Pounds of marijuana seized||42,000||45,000||+7.1 percent|
|All drug and drug-related parcel seizures||11,322||13,389||+18.3 percent|
|Arrests and indictments for mailing controlled substances||2,299||2,622||+14 percent|
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.
The U.S. 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.