Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

USPS OIG – Case Highlights – Checkmate

June 13, 2024
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READ FULL ARTICLE AT » Office of Inspector General OIG

Our partnerships with law enforcement agencies are essential in the fight against mail-related crimes, especially narcotics trafficking. And as drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have grown more sophisticated in their use of the U.S. Mail for their distribution networks, concerted efforts against them are now more important than ever. A recently closed case highlights how successful collaborations are disrupting and even dismantling entire DTOs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) first brought this case to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and our Office of Investigations. Our special agents and postal inspectors are expertly trained to identify suspicious parcels in the mailstream, and together with the DEA’s intelligence, they identified a prime suspect with connections to would-be co-conspirators in central Florida.

The DEA had information that the ringleader was receiving kilos of cocaine from an unidentified Puerto Rican supplier. Once received, the leader would deliver the drugs to his distributors in Florida. The investigating task force had seen the operation run like clockwork, with the ringleader making back-alley deals with one or more distributors. But soon another player joined the mix.

The taskforce observed the new guy meet sporadically with the ringleader. Our special agents had already laid the groundwork to identify the man, who evidence pointed to as being responsible for receiving at least 30 cocaine-laden Priority Mail parcels from Puerto Rico. No different than an expertly played game of chess, it was a matter of waiting for the DTO to make the next move and blunder.

One by one the suspects fell. Local law enforcement caught one of the DTO’s drug couriers with half a kilo of cocaine during a traffic stop — others would follow. With every countermove, the taskforce strategically advanced and zeroed in on the final suspect.

Most narcotics cases our special agents work see postal employees as hapless pawns in a larger, externally run drug trafficking game. But in this investigation, the last to make a move turned out to be the mastermind — a postal employee who’d been supplying the drugs from Puerto Rico. Checkmate.

When our agents arrested the employee, he admitted to his role in the operation, and more arrests ensued. Our special agents and their law enforcement partners successfully dismantled the DTO: The drug courier who was caught during the traffic stop was sentenced to 10 months in prison and three years’ supervised release. A mid-level distributor got three years in prison and five years’ supervised release. The ringleader in Florida was sentenced to over five years in prison and seven years’ supervised release. And the kingpin — the mail carrier who orchestrated the whole thing — received the longest sentence of all: seven and a half years in federal prison plus seven years’ supervised release. “When the game is over, the king and pawn go into the same box,” so the proverb goes.

Help call game over to illegal drugs in our mail and on our streets. If you suspect or know of narcotics trafficking involving Postal Service employees or contractors, please report it to our Hotline.

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