A report from South Florida says that the state is intercepting unusually high amounts of drugs in U.S. and commercial mail services, possibly indicating that drug traffickers have found a new favored transport route.
From marijuana and cocaine to prescription drugs, smugglers are using the mail as a safer means to transport goods to South Florida, according to a report by local newspaper the Sun Sentinel. The shipments are usually small, with typical packages containing only contain 20 to 30 pounds of marijuana or a pound or two of cocaine.
Nationally the amount of drugs confiscated via mail has steadily decreased, but in Florida the trend is on the rise. In both 2009 and 2010 only 37 pounds of cocaine were seized through Florida mail. During the first half of 2011, however, authorities confiscated 44 pounds of the drug.
According to one postal inspector based in the southern city Miramar, most of the packages seized in Florida originate from the southwest region of the U.S., where bulked-up security measures along the border may be pressuring smugglers into using different tactics.
Because mail is protected under a citizen’s right to privacy, authorities need a search warrant to open and inspect suspicious packages. U.S. Mail, as well as private carriers such as FedEx and UPS, all reportedly have security measures in place for identifying suspect mail, including examining the packaging. Smugglers of marijuana for example, must wrap their packages in plastic and cover them with axle grease or fabric softener sheets to overpower the smell.
It is rare that mail seizures result in arrests. Last year one Florida resident was arrested and sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for having a kilo of cocaine shipped to himself from the Virgin Islands in a package labeled “Legal Documents.”