Surge in Drug Deals Conducted Through Postal Service

Surge in Drug Deals Conducted Through Postal Service

By Scott MacFarlane – March 22, 2017

Federal agents have asked to seize more than 100 mail parcels in the Washington, D.C.-area since October, suspecting each was being used by drug traffickers to ship narcotics, the News4 I-Team learned in an investigation into illegal mail shipments of marijuana.

The cases are a fraction of a nationwide surge in drug deals conducted through the U.S. Postal Service and are only some of the 2,000 cases opened by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The distribution of drugs by mail is a federal crime, which crosses state lines. It is investigated by federal agents with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, including investigators who review packages at the major postal facility in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

Federal auditors report almost 35,000 pounds of marijuana was seized from U.S. Postal Service parcels in 2015.

Drug distributors exploit the parcel service to traffic drugs as a way to avoid detection from police departments. Traffickers attempt to minimize their own handling of the narcotics, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente said.

“They view this as safer,” Boente said. “They think they’re less likely to be caught because they don’t actually have the (drugs) on them.”

Newly filed federal search warrants show similarities between the parcels suspected of being shipped with narcotics. The packages include “heavy taping,” feature addresses from states in which marijuana is legalized and often use the U.S. Postal Service’s “click and save” stickers, which investigators said are added to make illegal parcels appear to be legitimate business packages.

A spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service declined I-Team requests for an interview about the local cases.

“Removing narcotics and other harmful substances from the nation’s mailstream is an important part of our strategy that involves safeguarding nearly 32,000 facilities and approximately 625,000 career and non-career employees,” a statement from the spokesman said.

The parcels are a safety risk to the public, former Maryland State Police narcotics investigator Neill Franklin said. The parcels are often shipped to “decoy” homes, which sit in close proximity to the homes of the intended recipients. Traffickers prefer to use and pick up parcels from neighboring addresses to reduce their risk of exposure, Franklin said, creating a risk of drug packages being opened by children or others unaware of the actual contents.

Investigations into distribution of narcotics through mail are limited and likely represent only a fraction of the actual trafficking, Franklin said.

“It takes a lot of resources, a lot of money and a lot of manpower,” he said. “Even with that we’re only intercepting a small portion of it.”

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If you’re a millionaire, the AHCA gives you $50K. If you’re poor, it costs you $1,420.

The typical family making less than $10,000 will lose $1,420 if the Republican health care plan passes, a cut that amounts to almost one-third of their income. Meanwhile, the average family making $200,000 or more would gain $5,640, according to a new analysis from the Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center:

Distributional consequences of the American Health Care ActUrban Institute

The report combines an analysis of the tax provisions of the act — which repeal the taxes the Affordable Care Act imposed largely on rich people, like a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income over $250,000 and a 0.9 percent surtax on wages over that amount — with changes to the ACA’s coverage provisions. That includes massive cuts to Medicaid(more than $880 billion per the Congressional Budget Office) and changes to Obamacare’s tax subsidies; the Republican proposal would make those subsidies smaller for poor people and extend eligibility to people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, with phaseout only beginning at $150,000 for dual earners.

It’s not surprising that cutting taxes on the rich while gutting health coverage for the poor and middle class has regressive consequences. But the numbers the Urban analysts arrive at are still shocking. People making more than $1 million a year would get an average tax cut of $51,410.

Those at the very bottom, making $10,000 a year or less, would get a mild tax cut because they’d gain eligibility for premium tax credits that they now don’t receive (as they’re typically on Medicaid). But it would be swamped by the $1,630-a-year average loss they’d incur due to the rollback of the Medicaid expansion and the “per capita cap” the law would impose on Medicaid spending going forward, which amounts to a large ongoing cut in program funding. The Medicaid changes cause a benefit reduction to the poorest Americans worth 37.4 percent of their income, on average. (Note that income here excludes non-cash benefits.)

Or look at it this way. Fully 46.2 percent of the tax cuts in the law go to literal millionaires. More than 70 percent of the cuts go to families making $200,000 a year or more, and 91 percent go to families making over $100,000. But more than three-quarters of the benefit cuts hurt families making $30,000 a year or less. A third hurts families making under $10,000 a year, families who are definitionally all in poverty.

And this is before considering the new cuts to Medicaid included in the manager’s amendment unveiled Monday night, which only makes the harm to poor people graver.

The Republican health plan, in other words, is a massive redistributionary measure, which cuts aid to the poorest people in America to give huge tax cuts to millionaires. That’s not an inflammatory, partisan statement. That’s a statement of fact. This is what the bill that the new Republican administration is devoting the first months of its term to passing does.

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Bang-up Job: USPS Blames New Employees For Rising Motor Vehicle Accidents

The increasing use of non-career letter carriers has caused a steady rise in motor vehicle accidents and liability, postal officials said this week.

The U.S. Postal Service’s liability for motor vehicle tort claims (paid to victims of accidents) rose from $48 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to $88 million in FY2016, the Postal Regulatory Commission recently pointed out.

In responding to that observation on Thursday, the Postal Service explained: “Since the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreements between the Postal Service and several employee unions, which expanded the role of non-career mail delivery drivers, there has been an increase in the number of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).”

“The number of MVAs attributed to career carriers has remained largely flat, while those attributed to their non-career counterparts has increased out of proportion to the percentage of the carrier workforce that they occupy.” The 2011 agreements created the non-career City Carrier Assistant (CCA) and Rural Carrier Associate (RCA) positions, which last year combined for one-fourth of the USPS’s carrier workhours.

The cost of saving money
The lower pay, paltry benefits, and more flexible schedules of the 70,000 or so CCAs and RCAs are probably saving the Postal Service at least $500 million in annual compensation. But the inexperienced employees have also meant more mis-delivered mail, employee injuries, lower productivity, higher turnover, and ballooning recruiting and training costs, according to the USPS.

The Postal Service has not provided specifics on the number of motor-vehicle accidents or what proportion of accidents or tort claims are caused by non-career employees.

The USPS told the PRC earlier this year that its FY2017 strategy for reducing motor-vehicle accidents includes “redesigning the driver training program to expand opportunities for new drivers to become more skillful. Testing will be added to the program to assess the suitability of each employee to perform duties as a professional driver.”

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