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Suspicious Packages Lead OIG, Federal Partners to Major Drug Bust

December 27, 2023

READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Office of Inspector General OIG

It started like any get-rich-quick scheme does: a small, seemingly benign project that can be done quickly and with promising returns. But for one mail carrier in Florida, buying into easy money would unleash a chain of events he never anticipated.

The job the carrier signed up for quickly morphed into that of a middleman: he’d receive medication packages from an online pharmacy and he, in turn, would divide the contents and mail smaller envelopes around the country. He was assured nothing about it was illegal, but that’s exactly what it was, and even after he became aware of it, he continued to engage. Unbeknownst to him, federal law enforcement partners were already tracing his steps.

Along with the Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), our special agents were tracking suspicious packages that showed signs of a possible connection to the employee. The DEA had already intercepted parcels that tested positive for fentanyl, cocaine, and meth. In Florida, OIG and USPIS agents later intercepted five packages at the carrier’s post office that were destined for his residence.

Investigators found the five packages contained thousands of pills containing dangerous opioids. And while the DEA and USPIS pursued the external suspects involved in the scheme, our special agents found the mail carrier had received over 40 such parcels and was storing over 220,000 pills at home. These included what they thought were controlled pain killers like Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Tramadol, and Percocet, and the sedative Ambien — all known for being highly addictive.

But just like the online pharmacy was illegally run, the pills the mail carrier distributed were counterfeit: instead of containing pure, regulated ingredients, they were made up of shady substances cut with fentanyl. In fact, the aggregate weight of fentanyl in the pills our agents seized was well over 11 kg, which is greater than the weight of two bowling balls.

The carrier admitted to mailing about 200 envelopes containing pills, but investigators found it was over 1,000. To complicate matters, he had been receiving workers’ compensation benefits while knowingly distributing life-threatening narcotics across the country.

The mail carrier pleaded guilty to knowingly and intentionally possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute. In April 2023, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Because of a concurrent claimant fraud investigation, the Department of Labor terminated the carrier’s claim for compensation in October 2023. This saved USPS an estimated $1.9 million in future compensation payments and required the carrier to pay back more than of $48,000 in benefits he had received.

If you suspect or know of narcotics trafficking involving Postal Service employees or contractors, please report it to our Hotline. And if you work for USPS and get an offer to make easy money that just sounds too good to be true, you’re probably right.

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