A recent report published by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General alerted people to a long-running problem facing the government agency – drug dealers consistently use it to ship drugs to their customers.
“For example, a cocaine trafficker claimed to have used the Postal Service to successfully distribute nearly 4,000 shipments, stating that they had a 100 percent delivery success rate,” the report stated (PDF). “In addition, of the 96 traffickers who indicated they used the Postal Service as their shipping provider, 43 percent (41) offered free, partial, or full reshipment if the package did not arrive to the buyer’s address because it was confiscated, stolen, or lost.”
Staffers in the Inspector General’s office discovered that 92 percent of illicit drug sites that identified a method of shipping use the US Postal Service, and 80 percent of websites indexed by search engines – on the “clear web” – instructed people to use the US Postal Service when shipping drugs.
The report was initially requested by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“The use of the Postal Service’s network to import and distribute illicit drugs puts the Postal Service, its employees, and the public at risk,” she wrote in a letter asking for the study. She said at a committee hearing last week “that mail facilities have the largest number of individual CBP seizures of opioids.”
The investigation discovered several vulnerabilities in the US Postal Service’s system, like the fact that the service generally cannot open packages or envelopes, while mail coming into the United States can be searched at the border. There is also no specific penalty in place for using the service to ship drugs.
“Drug traffickers in the U.S. can send their packages like any other customer — dropping them in a blue collection box, or presenting them at a post office or through a third-party approved shipper,” the report stated.
According to US Postal Service spokeswoman Kim Frum, the agency has implemented practices to help stem the flow of opioids into and across the United States. In a statement, Frum noted that the agency increased the number of seized international packages by 1000 percent, and increased the number of seized domestic packages by 750 percent. However, the agency still needs to make strides to completely shut down this avenue of the illicit drug industry. The Inspector General included seven recommendations to improve the agency’s effectiveness, which can be found in the report’s table of contents here (PDF).