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USPS and what they look for....


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#1 prism

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 11:00 PM

Originally from: hXXp://www.thefreelibrary.com/Profil...ges-a018447923
Profiling postal packages

Most Americans use the U.S. Postal Service nearly every day. Whether to send bills to clients, advertise for new customers, or exchange letters with friends, citizens rely on the Postal Service to help them conduct their professional and personal business. Unfortunately, some people use it to conduct illegal business--namely, drug distribution.

In Omaha, Nebraska, authorities have taken steps to cut off the drug trade conducted by mail. In 1988. Inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service proposed a partnership with the Omaha, Nebraska, Police Department's Narcotics Unit to interdict drugs transported into the city by mail. Prior intelligence gathering revealed that dealers smuggled large amounts of cocaine into Omaha simply by wrapping up the drugs and mailing them at the post office. Smugglers often used express delivery methods because the demands of quick delivery lowered the chances of detection by postal inspectors.

The joint operation has yielded positive results. In one early case, inspectors intercepted a suspicious package mailed from Los Angeles, California, to an Omaha address. Based on the subsequent investigation, inspectors obtained a search warrant search warrant n. A written order by a judge which permits a law enforcement officer to search a specific place (eg. 112 Magnolia Avenue, Apartment 3, or a 1991 Pontiac, Texas License number 123ABC) and identifies the persons (if known) and any articles intended to be seized (often specified by type, such as "weapons," "drugs and drug paraphernalia," "evidence of bodily harm"). For the package, which contained 6 ounces (186 grams) of powdered cocaine.


The drugs led the joint team to a big arrest when an undercover postal inspector made a controlled delivery of the package to the mailing address in Omaha, and police officers immediately executed a search warrant on the location. Inside, officers apprehended a hard core gang member who had relocated from southern California and established gun- and drug-running operations in the city. The success of this operation and others like it stemmed from two factors: Use of a package profile to identify suspicious parcels and close cooperation between the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Omaha Police Narcotics Unit during the investigatory process.

THE PROFILE

To identify pieces of mail that might contain controlled substances, postal inspectors rely on a package profile based on a readily discernable, predetermined set of criteria. Past court decisions make clear that the regular application of a consistent set of criteria is not intrusive.(1) Using the profile helps establish reasonable suspicion, which is required by the Postal Service to detain mail for examination.(2)

The profile sets criteria for both the package's condition and its label. Taken individually, few of the criteria would indicate that the package contains contraband; however, a combination of these factors indicates a suspicious package worthy of a second look.

First, in terms of the package itself, inspectors look for parcels that have been heavily taped along the seams, have been prepared poorly for mailing, have an uneven weight distribution, or apparently have been reused. However, inspectors do not identify questionable pieces of mail only by sight; suspicious packages frequently emit odors of marijuana or of a masking agent, such as perfume, coffee, or fabric-softener sheets.

Second, package labels often provide clues. Inspectors look for labels that have been handwritten; contain misspelled names, streets, or cities; originate from a drug-source State; and have been sent from one person to another, not from a business to an individual. Further identifiers include a return address ZIP code that does not match the accepting post office ZIP code or a fictitious return address. Finally, the names of the sender and/or the receiver frequently have a common ring to them, such as John Smith, and have no connection to either address.

Postal inspectors receive copies of all labels from packages signed for by the recipient. If a particular address receives multiple deliveries from a drug-source State, for example, inspectors will check with postal carriers at both the sending and receiving addresses to verify names and addresses. If the return address is fictitious or if the listed names do not have a connection to either address, inspectors will be alert to intercept future packages.

THE INVESTIGATION

The Postal Inspection Service bears responsibility for detecting suspicious packages. This type of investigation requires patience, because inspectors routinely examine hundreds of mailing labels on packages sent through the mail. Through these examinations, inspectors attempt to recognize packages matching the profile characteristics. When they locate a suspicious package, the investigation begins.

Present Package to Drug Dog

Upon discovery of a suspicious package, postal inspectors notify the Omaha Police Narcotics Unit. The unit's supervisor assigns a drug dog handler to meet with the inspector and present the package to the dog.

Presentation strategies vary. Sometimes the handler hides the package to see if the dog can sniff out its location. At other times, the handler presents the suspicious package to the dog, along with other similar parcels.

The dog handler carefully records the details of the presentation for future use as search warrant documentation. The dog's positive reaction to the package indicates the presence of drugs, which in many cases establishes probable cause to prepare a search warrant to inspect the parcel's contents.

Obtain Search Warrants

Suspicious package investigations typically require two search warrants: One to open and search the package and one to search the mailing address after delivery of the parcel. Postal inspectors and police investigators work closely to ensure that all documentation for the warrants is complete and accurate, important factors in obtaining evidence and prosecuting the case.

Searching the Package

Because the U.S. Mail falls under Federal jurisdiction, a Federal warrant must be obtained for any suspicious package. The police drug dog handler helps the inspector prepare the affidavit because they must provide the magistrate with a history of the dog's reliability and past achievements.

Having obtained the warrant, postal inspectors open the package. This important step must not be dealt with carelessly. The package might need to be resealed for a controlled delivery, so inspectors must exercise caution. To preserve fingerprints on any item or contraband, the person opening the package wears rubber gloves. Inspectors also photograph the opening of the parcel in a series of steps for use as future evidence.

In the formative stages of Omaha's program, postal inspectors and police investigators met with prosecutors to determine a strategy for handling cases brought by the joint team. They concurred that when a package containing drugs was identified, investigators would remove most of the drugs, leaving just a small amount to be resealed in the package and delivered later. Prosecutors agreed that they could argue successfully in court that the defendant found in possession of the resealed package actually had "constructive possession constructive possession n. When a person does not have actual possession, but has the power to control an asset, he/she has constructive possession. Having the key to a safe deposit box, for example, gives one constructive possession. (See: constructive)" of the original amount of contraband. However, to preserve the elements of the State or Federal drugs violation, it would be best if at least some of the drugs originally seized were delivered in the package.

After removing most of the illegal substance, inspectors frequently replace it with an imitation so as not to alert suspects when they open the package. For example, a recent investigation in Omaha located a large amount of crack cocaine formed into the shape of cookies. Investigators left several of the original crack cookies in the package but substituted sugar cookies for the rest.

On a practical note, this procedure safeguards against the loss of the evidence in the unlikely event that the subject eludes police officers after the package is delivered but before the search warrant of the residence can be executed. Omaha officers quickly discovered that suspects often attempt to leave the location with the evidence immediately following the controlled delivery of the package but prior to the entry team's arrival.

Searching the Address

Once the package has been searched and resealed, the Omaha Police Narcotics Unit supervisor prepares a search warrant for the mailing address. This does not have to be a Federal warrant, but the Federal search warrant used to open the package is referenced in the warrant petition and a copy is attached.

A police investigator and the postal inspector collaborate to prepare the second search warrant. The affidavit describes exactly how the investigation began--with discovery of the suspicious package--and follows with the details of presenting the parcel to the drug dog, obtaining the Federal search warrant, opening the package, and locating the drugs. The affidavit also notes that officers removed a specific amount of the drug from the package, left a small amount, and refilled the package with an imitation substance.

This type of search warrant is anticipatory in nature. That is, the affidavit clearly must show that law enforcement officers currently possess the drugs to be seized and that they intend to serve the search warrant after the controlled delivery of the package. If probable cause exists, items such as packaging materials, scales, long distance telephone bills, money, drug records, and additional drugs should be listed on the warrant to be seized. Any historical or intelligence information about the address of the anticipated delivery or the persons known to frequent the address also should be documented in the affidavit.

Prepare for Delivery

The next step involves delivering the package to the intended address under carefully controlled conditions. The Narcotics Unit supervisor handles three aspects of this operation. The supervisor arranges the controlled delivery, establishes a secure perimeter around the address to prevent the subject from leaving with the package, and supervises the execution of the search warrant.

First, the supervisor conducts an extensive reconnaissance of the address, especially noting all possible exits. Because at least several minutes will elapse between the controlled delivery and the execution of the search warrant to allow the recipient time to open the package, all exits of the address must be placed under surveillance to prevent anyone from leaving with the package.

Second, the supervisor briefs all officers involved in executing the search warrant, dividing officers between the perimeter and entry teams. The perimeter team, which keeps all exits of the target address under surveillance, must be positioned to stop and arrest anyone who might leave with the package after it has been delivered. The entry team, which typically comprises Omaha police officers, postal inspectors, and occasionally, FBI agents, serves the warrant, makes appropriate arrests, and conducts the subsequent search of the premises.

Deliver the Package

An undercover postal inspector normally delivers the package after the perimeter team takes its position. In most situations, the Narcotics Unit supervisor then gives the recipient enough time to open the package, because an opened package undermines the commonly used defense that the suspect did not know what it contained.

In addition, experience shows that the original recipient often will turn over the parcel to a second person who arrives within minutes of the delivery. For this reason, the supervisor might choose to wait a considerable length of time before sending in the entry team.

Execute the Search Warrant

At the appropriate time, the entry team executes the search warrant for the package on the target location. During the search, officers remain alert for additional drugs, drug records, money, long distance telephone bills, scales, baggies, and other labels of packages previously mailed to the address, as listed on the warrant.

Upon completion of the search, the supervisor quickly analyzes the situation to determine whether to interrogate the person who signed for the package on the scene. If such questioning could prove fruitful, the suspect is advised of his Miranda rights. On occasion, by immediately interrogating the recipient, investigators have convinced suspects to make tape-recorded telephone contact with a second suspect who, in turn, arrived at the scene only to be arrested.

Investigators question the arrested parties thoroughly to determine their knowledge of the parcel's contents and their connections with a network of people involved in smuggling the package into the city. Many postal profiling cases in Omaha have resulted in Federal prosecution of individuals in other States, such as California, for participating in drug smuggling operations.

SUCCESSES

The success of the package profiling program in Omaha proves that law enforcement can transcend jurisdictional boundaries to combat crimes that often go undetected. Highlights of the program include two separate seizures of 3-pound quantities of crack cocaine valued at approximately $250,000 each that had been mailed to Omaha from sources in Los Angeles.

Not all seizures have run smoothly. In one case, inspectors intercepted a package containing 5 ounces (155 grams) of methamphetamine. Following standard procedure, officers removed all but 5 grams of the substance, which they sealed in a tube taped to the inside of the package. A female at the target address signed for the package during the controlled delivery, but when officers executed the search warrant, no drugs could be found. Knowing that they had delivered the methamphetamine, officers conducted an extensive and thorough search of the premises but to no avail. Finally, several hours later, the woman vomited the tube intact. She had swallowed it when she saw the law enforcement officers approach the residence.

Despite the occasional mishap, the package profiling system has produced many seizures that have netted both crack and powdered cocaine, marijuana, LSD, methamphetamine, heroin, steroids, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Prosecutors have obtained numerous felony convictions in both Federal and State courts.

CONCLUSION

Profiling postal packages represents a challenging and exciting aspect of drug enforcement. In the future, law enforcement agencies might expand the use of this technique to detect packages transported by private carriers and parcel services.

The expertise gained by working with postal inspectors to detect controlled substances sent by mail could be applied to private carriers in an attempt to choke off other conduits for transporting controlled substances. By employing every method available, U.S. Postal Inspectors can work with local law enforcement agencies to keep the Postal Service from being an unwitting and unwilling drug courier.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Profile

Postal inspectors use these criteria to identify packages that might contain drugs.

Package Criteria

* Emits odors of marijuana or or a masking agent (e.g., coffee, perfume, fabric-softener sheets)

* Is heavily taped along seams

* Is poorly prepared for mailing

* Appears to have been re-used

* Has an uneven weight distribution

Label Criteria

* Is handwritten

* Contains misspelled names, streets, or cities

* Originates from a drug source State

* Has been sent from an individual to an individual

* Contains return address ZIP code that does not match accepting post office ZIP code

* Shows a fictitious return address

* Lists sender's and/or receiver's names of common type (e.g., John Smith) that are not connected to either address

Endnotes

(1) United States v. Hill, 701 F. Supp. 1522 (D.C.Kan. 1988). (2) The U.S. Postal Service's Administrative Support Manual (ASM), Section 274.31, disallows any mail sealed against inspection (i.e., First-Class, Express Mail) to be detained, even for a dog sniff, with very few exceptions. ASM 274.31 (a) notes that "a Postal Inspector acting diligently and without avoidable delay, upon reasonable suspicion, for a brief period of time [may detain a piece of mail] to assemble sufficient evidence to satisfy the probable-cause requirement for a search warrant, and to apply for, obtain, and execute the warrant." Therefore, reasonable suspicion must exist before the mail can be detained.
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#2 TurkeyRanch

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 11:59 PM

Awesome information Prism. Thanks for takin the time to post that for us.

:pirate: TR

#3 bendychicken

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 12:23 AM

WTF is a "drug source state"?

#4 datsun

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 08:52 AM

Good info, would this be a reason not to use usps and use a different carrier?

#5 prism

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 09:31 AM

Nope... USPS needs a warrant to open your mail. Private logisitical services like FEDEX and UPS can open whatever they want, whenever they want. I would avoid any of the packaging mistakes listed above and use USPS for anything sensitive.

#6 onediadem

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 09:51 AM

I will offer up some advice on this subject~


You will need:

food saver vacuum system
Orange oil cleaner spray
potpourri
6 sets of disposable rubber gloves.
Weed, shrooms, whatever


Have the product sitting ready to go into a bag using rubber gloves. Wash your hands for a minimum of three minutes with anti bacterial soap after removing the gloves. Do not touch the product again until specified.

Do this with 2nd set of gloves on before you ever touch the weed or bags.
Make 4 bags ready to seal. Fold the top down on the first bag halfway, so the nugs do not touch the outside of the bag.

Now, with the gloves on, carefully put weed into bottom of bag number one. do not touch the bag with the hand that has held the product after filling.

Remove gloves.

Wash your hands again. Doesn't have to be for 3 min, but a good scrubbing will do.

Put on new gloves, and hold bag from bottom with one hand, and with the other, unfold the top portion of the bag, never touching the inside portion of the bag, by sliding your hand under the fold.

Vacuum seal bag.. Spray outside of sealed bag with orange oil cleaner, and place folded, still wet with orange cleaner into another vacuum bag. Remove gloves, seal.

Repeat 1 more time, so there are three layers of vacuumed bags.

With new gloves on, spray outside of sealed bag with orange oil. The next bag will need to be at least double the size of what you have already done.

Fill bottom of open bag with potpourri. Place sealed bag inside, and work in potpourri all around sealed bag, so none of the sealed bag shows, only the potpourri, cover the top also with potpourri, and seal.

You can print up a label for the potpourri and fold it in half and staple it to the part of the bag that isn't sealed.

Use a box specifically for a birthday or holiday.

I have shipped this way many times. Never fails. Its your call if you want to try this method at an airport. From what I understand, they are now charging for any luggage other than a small carry on.

I have always used a real person or small business out of the phone book for mailing purposes with the same zip, and I always use small venues like office max or preferably a family owned small mailing business and mail ups or fed ex. Yes they can open it, but if you are careful, and follow this to the letter, you will be golden.

Good luck. I haven't done any mailing in years, but I have send more than you could ever imagine in a single package and never has 1 problem.


:heart:






Edited by onediadem, 27 November 2010 - 09:53 AM.
Spelling fubars, lol....


#7 prism

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 12:05 PM

Ahh Good info! I would advise against sending anything other than prints or seeds for optimal security. Anything larger or smellier is risky.

Stick with beans and prints and one can pretty much guarantee the arrival of a package using the USPS as long as one avoids violating the above parameters regarding packaging and labeling criteria.

:)

Edited by prism, 27 November 2010 - 12:13 PM.


#8 TVCasualty

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 05:52 PM

Always good info to keep in mind, thanks for posting it!

WTF is a "drug source state"?


California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Colorado (and any other medical marijuana state). I'd imagine states along the Northern border are also somewhat in this category (esp. Washington) but not nearly to the degree that the Southern border states are.

It also gets even dicier if sending from certain cities and counties within those states. If you hear the name of a city or county and think "Man, they have great weed there!" then be careful getting contraband sent from it (tell your buddy to take a little drive...).

#9 TVCasualty

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 06:03 PM

Oh, and another masking tip for stinky cargo is to double vacuum bag it with either activated charcoal or a shot of vodka between the inner and outer bag. Both substances suck up odors, but unless you trained a puppy to be your own private drug sniffing dog and can verify your package doesn't emit a scent then it's always a bit of a gamble (it's not hard to train a dog and offers tremendous peace of mind if Spot can't find his 'toy' in your package).

But having said the above, I should add that a scent escaping a package is just a matter of time, so if your own dog can't detect it shortly after you put it together that doesn't mean it won't be detectable in a few hours after the molecules diffuse through the material, and they will diffuse through all materials and be detectable to a dog if given enough time.

One of the best shipping methods I've yet heard about involved shipping weed in a large gun safe via motor freight. The recipient then put the money in the safe and sent it back. That safe was never stopped and went back and forth across the country... let's just say it was a few times.
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#10 shiitakegrower

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 07:41 PM

Always good to have info like this in case one ever needs to ship something.
Thanks!

#11 CatsAndBats

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 10:58 AM

bump.


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#12 dead_diver

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 12:50 PM

That profile describes the majority of ebay packages I mail out. I'm sure mine have been delayed several times for inspection. That is why they sit for 3 or 4 days at a major postal hub and my buyers complain someone opened and tampered with the packages. It seems that a couple ounces of powdered agar in a Flat Rate envelope is highly suspicious.
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#13 CatsAndBats

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 01:04 PM

This time of year is actually the best time to ship packages that one would want opened only by the intended recipient IMHO, due to the volume of mail.



#14 fungi2bwith

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 01:57 PM

Since this was brought up, I'll throw in my 2 cents.....

 

Once you have been red flagged by USPS, don't ever try to send out or receive contraband again....From first hand experience, for the past three years, since I was arrested(not convicted) for shipping 40 lbs of "high grade" marijuana through the mail, I have consistently had issues with the post office....I am constantly receiving damaged/opened packages(all legit stuff from amazon), or they just get sent back to the sender...never had issues like this with USPS prior to my arrest....

 

So now I strictly use FedEx, or UPS with no issues.....


Edited by fungi2bwith, 07 December 2016 - 01:59 PM.

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#15 Sidestreet

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 06:05 PM

archive material, good bump


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#16 Furthur1

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Posted 08 December 2016 - 07:32 AM

Never shipped from Omaha, but to Omaha now thats a diffrent story.

#17 TVCasualty

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 01:30 PM

Back in the day folks were often advised to let a package sit by the door unopened for 24 hours after receiving it in order to be as sure as one can be that it wasn't a controlled delivery.

 

Someone I knew back in college was spared a rough time by doing just that; when the cops showed up an hour and a half after the package was delivered she explained that she didn't know who the addressee was (fake name) so was going to return it to the sender (which of course is why it was still sitting unopened just inside the front door when they showed her the Warrant).

 

They were really pissed, but all they could do was take the box and leave. That was the end of her receiving anything sketchy in the mail, though her cousin who lived across town took over that role and all was well again by the end of the week (I lost contact with them years ago so I'm just going to assume they lived happily ever after and are still receiving "care packages" to this day...).

 

 

Another incident I'm familiar with involved a different sort of controlled delivery, and serves as a cautionary tale. An acquaintance of a friend of mine who I consider to be a dumbass got a pound sent from California via FedEx Next Day Air a few years ago (oops; that was mistake #1). He had it sent to some rural property owned by a friend of his. It was a nice, large plot of land (~45 acres) with a doublewide trailer on it that had been rented to a couple that had recently been evicted for not taking care of the property (which was part of their lease agreement).

 

The dumbass had the package sent to the unoccupied trailer under the name of the previous tenant. I guess he thought that being way out in the country afforded some sort of additional layer of security or something. Turns out it's the exact opposite.

 

The property was 'hidden' in the sense that it's real hard to find if you've never been there before, but I guess the dumbass never realized that a good hiding place is a function of who is looking, and how. After all, if a FedEx driver can find it...

 

Anyway, his other big mistake was using a property that was at the end of a dead-end dirt road. Only one way in or out. Well, as one can imagine the contraband was discovered and a controlled delivery set up. But since it was way out in the sticks and there was no signature required, dumbass figured he could roll up and see if the box was sitting by the trailer or not without actually getting out of his truck (and check if there was anyone else around first). Seemed like a good idea, at least in theory.

 

He didn't figure that they'd set up a road block part way down the access road so that he'd have to go through a 'checkpoint' the police had set up to see who dropped by. Since only three other people lived on that road, he had some serious 'splainin' to do about why he was driving down that road right at dusk and just barely escaped being arrested thanks to knowing the area well enough to bullshit about looking for a particular property that was for sale (that happened to be nearby on a different road). The cops damned well knew it was his package but he didn't crack during the questioning or mess up his very thin BS story so he walked... barely.

 

There were lots of handy lessons tucked into that incident (try to collect them all!).


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#18 Sidestreet

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 04:06 PM

Here are some more lessons:

 

 

Here, the trial court found as follows: The informant, a Clayton UPS store employee, had been trained to detect narcotics. The informant had successfully notified the police about packages later found to contain illegal narcotics. These tips were used to secure a number of felony drug convictions.

 

On the day in question, the informant advised the police that a man, later identified as Defendant, had arrived at the UPS store in a truck and retrieved four packages with a Utah return address when in fact the packages had been sent from Arizona. Specifically, the trial court found as follows regarding the informant's tip:

 

The Confidential Informant informed [the officer] that the four packages had been shipped from Tuscan [sic], Arizona yet the address on the package stated it was shipped from Ogden, Utah.

The Confidential Informant stated to [the officer] that a black male and a black female operating a black Chevrolet truck were the individuals picking up the four suspicious packages. The Confidential Informant provided the license plate number of the Chevrolet truck to [the officer].

 

After receiving the tip, police arrived at the UPS store, observed Defendant driving away, and initiated a traffic stop

 

We believe that based on the previous experience with the informant, the police acted reasonably in relying on the informant's tip to conclude that Defendant had retrieved packages with Arizona shipping addresses which were in fact shipped from Utah. A return address on a package which differs from the package's actual city of origin is a legitimate factor in a trial court's reasonable suspicion calculus. Still, there is nothing illegal about receiving a package with a return address which differs from the actual shipping address. Indeed, there are a number of innocent explanations for why this could have occurred. For instance, here, the packages could have been sent by a Utah resident while vacationing in Arizona.

 

We recognize that innocent factors, when considered together, may give rise to reasonable suspicion. See United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 9 (1989). Courts have found reasonable suspicion on the basis of a number of innocent factors, including a suspicious return address. However, we are not aware of any case where a court has determined the existence of reasonable suspicion based solely on a suspicious return address. Rather, other additional factors have always factored in this calculus. These factors have included (1) the size and shape of the mailing; (2) whether the package is taped to seal all openings; (3) whether the mailing labels are handwritten; (4) whether the return address is fictitious; (5) unusual odors from the package; (6) whether the city of origin is a common “drug source” locale; and (7) whether there have been repeated mailings involving the same sender and addressee. United States v. Alexander, 540 F.3d 494, 501, 501 n.2 (6th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted).

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v. RODNEY EDWARD WATSON

 

 

 

 

However, “even first-class mail is not beyond the reach of all inspection....” Van Leeuwen, 397 U.S. at 251, 90 S.Ct. 1029. In Van Leeuwen, the defendant mailed two packages at the post office, the postal clerk told a police officer that he thought Van Leeuwen's packages were suspicious, and the officer examined the packages and detained them pending further investigation. The investigation revealed further facts supporting the suspicion that Van Leeuwen was trafficking in illegal coins, and the officer obtained a warrant to open the packages. The Supreme Court held that the nature and weight of the packages and the fact that the return address was fictitious “certainly justified detention [of the packages] without warrant, while an investigation was made.” Id. at 252, 90 S.Ct. 1029. Following Van Leeuwen, we have held that “only reasonable suspicion, and not probable cause, is necessary in order to briefly detain a package for further investigation, such as examination by a drug-sniffing dog.” United States v. Robinson, 390 F.3d 853, 870 (6th Cir.2004).

 

Although we have not adopted the Postal Service's “drug package profile” as the test for reasonable suspicion, we have relied on many of the same factors in analyzing an officer's decision to investigate a package.  For example, we have found reasonable suspicion where the package smelled of marijuana, had a return address from a known drug distribution area, and had handwritten labels. See Robinson, 390 F.3d at 859. In another case, we held that postal authorities had reasonable suspicion to present a package to a drug-detection dog because the package had been mailed from a city known to be a source of illegal drugs, the package showed a fictitious return address, and three other packages with fictitious return addresses had been mailed to the same address. See United States v. Elgin, 57 Fed.Appx. 659, 660 (6th Cir.2003).
 
In this case, Detective Cook's suspicion was reasonable. On this particular package, the signature was waived with an “X” mark, the package seemed “dense,” the label was handwritten, the package was coming from Las Vegas and going to Shaker Heights, and the return address was fictitious. Given these circumstances, we hold that there was sufficient evidence of criminal activity afoot to warrant detaining the package for further investigation. Alexander argues that the address may actually have been valid, and that Cook was mistaken. However, the fact that the return address may actually have been valid is irrelevant. “The reasonableness of an official invasion of the citizen's privacy must be appraised on the basis of the facts as they existed at the time that invasion occurred.” Jacobsen, 466 U.S. at 115, 104 S.Ct. 1652. At the time he detained the package and subjected it to a dog sniff, Cook had made a reasonable effort to verify the address and received a report that it was fake. Thus, reasonable suspicion existed to justify detaining the package pending a dog sniff, which occurred within approximately twenty minutes of the time Cook first noticed the package.
U.S. v Alexander, 540 F.3d 494 (6th Cir. 2008)
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#19 niemandgeist

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 05:09 PM

So, way, way before the "Darknet markets and onions" were even a thing, I had gotten involved in a secret forum with a very exclusive "invitation and referral only policy" for entrance.

 

This is where people could freely trade, and then rate others (your "reputation points" were everything) on the trades. Anything your heart desired, if you agreed to trade X for Y, and you both went through as promised, BOOM your experience points went up, your reputation increased, and you had access to more than your heart could ever desire.

 

This was in the mid-to-late 2000's.

 

Packages were always professional. Printed labels. Preference to use standard USPS boxes. It helped to cleverly disguise things among obvious things "Stealth". No tape. Neat and tidy. Unassuming as hell.

 

Shit, one guy even managed to unseal and then professionally re-seal somehow fruit snacks as well as pack the entire original box up so well that, when I got the package, I thought I'd been scammed! I had to open every single one before I found the "goods".

 

It always went through without a hitch, but I'm glad I haven't been involved in that life at all since 2007.

 

I rest much easier not dealing with that stuff since a long time now.

 

However, if you want to send something to someone, it helps to know the stuff that's been posted.

 

Definitely keeping the received package around for a week or so before opening helps, too. Delayed gratification is a good thing, and self-control could potentially save you from a world of trouble. The risk may be miniscule, but hey, better safe than sorry, right?

 

I haven't, and will never ever deal again, in "gray area" or "black market" stuff being sent in the mail. My older, wiser, more experienced mind just doesn't see the reward ever being worth the risk. Even if you got away with it, the anxiety can't be good.

Never sending something that requires a signature helps, as well. One less thing to tempt you to sign for something that could do you in for some long-lasting pain.

 

If you ever DO think about sending some, eh, questionable things in the mail, be sure to keep it to miniscule amounts. Don't get greedy. You can always send a few more packages of tiny amounts over the space of several months you know. If you aren't dealing with someone who has any patience then don't deal with them. It puts the both of you at risk.

 

In hindsight, my dumber "thought he knew his shit" 20-something-self really took way more risks than he ought to have. I mean, having stuff delivered to a PO box is having stuff delivered to FEDERALLY OWNED PROPERTY after all.

 

These days, it's a much better life not having to take ANY risks like that.

 

But, eh, people will do what they'll do, you know.

 

I've even read about some people being done in for constantly tracking USPS packages with illegal goods. The USPS logs all of those requests to view the status of the package, you know. If that package is in any way suspect, and it has tracking on it, you'd better believe they know to check out who's IP is checking out the status on that!

 

The only thing I could honestly see really getting through these days would be LSD-dosed candies, cookies, etc. POSSIBLY even canna-cookies. I wouldn't really push it, though. Honestly, I'd steadfastly recommend against it when you can cultivate your own mushrooms and get prints in the mail without breaking the rules.


Edited by niemandgeist, 11 December 2016 - 05:11 PM.

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