Drug Dealers Trying Rush-Delivery Services 

Drug Dealers Trying Rush-Delivery Services 
Posted by FoM on December 26, 1999 at 08:03:50 PT
By James Hannah, The Associated Press
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer 
Drug dealers who once concealed marijuana and cocaine in cars and trucks for risky cross-country trips or dropped it in the mail and hoped for the best may be increasingly trying another avenue to ship drugs: overnight delivery companies.     But authorities are wise to it. 
    “We're getting more and more all the time now that they are using overnight delivery,” said Col. Ralph Fizer of the Clinton County Sheriff's Office.     Col. Fizer said drug traffickers may believe it is safer to ship drugs that way — especially during the busy holiday season — because they can avoid postal inspectors and highway troopers, who can seize their drugs, make an arrest and produce a witness against the dealers.     This month, a specially trained team of Clinton County deputies began inspecting packages at Airborne Express in Wilmington, the company's main sorting center for North America. It didn't take them long to find packages of marijuana.     “The first night they got 49 pounds. The second night they got 333 pounds,” Col. Fizer said.     Determining the extent to which overnight deliveries are used to ship drugs is difficult. No statistics were available despite checks with sheriff's departments, overnight delivery companies, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House.     However, authorities say there could be a shift from the U.S. mail to overnight delivery.     Last year, U.S. postal inspectors seized 12,500 pounds of illegal drugs, $8.7 million in cash, and arrested more than 1,500 people on trafficking and money-laundering charges. Those numbers have steadily declined since 1994.     “It's gone down because our efforts have been so successful,” said Robert Bethel, spokesman for the Postal Inspection Service in Washington, D.C. “We're confident they're looking for other ways to transport the drugs.”     Postal Inspector Doug Ervin of the Cincinnati office said his investigations lead him to believe that many drug dealers have moved from shipping drugs through the mail to the overnight delivery companies.     “And they alternate from service to service to avoid any kind of consistency,” Mr. Ervin said.     Drug traffickers, however, continue to rely on the streets to ship drugs. Ohio State Highway Patrol figures show 30 seizures of drugs with a street value of $10,000 or more by troopers this year compared with 12 last year, Sgt. Gary Lewis said.     “It could be possible that these individuals are trying to find other routes,” Sgt. Lewis said.     While postal inspectors have no authority to inspect packages sent through private overnight delivery companies, they are helping coordinate efforts by law enforcement officials to do that.     Col. Fizer said his deputies look for packages shipped from certain geographic areas with certain suspect addresses. The telltale reek of marijuana as well as odors such as coffee, mustard, perfume or clothes dryer sheets that mask drug smells are also tip-offs.     “They try to squirt them with mustard or something to confuse our dogs,” Col. Fizer said.     The deputies work at Airborne two nights a week. Col. Fizer hopes to expand the team to eight or nine deputies and increase the time spent there.     Camille Pitre, spokeswoman for Airborne Express, said the company supports the deputies' efforts and always has tried to be helpful in spotting drug packages.     “If an employee notices something that is odoriferous ... they do not play around,” Ms. Pitre said. “They will immediately contact local authorities for an investigation.”     Emery Worldwide uses its own security team at its sorting facility at Dayton International Airport to check for such things as drugs, said spokesman Jim Allen. U.S. Customs officials are also on site.     However, Mr. Allen said he doubts that drug traffickers try to ship through the company much. He said smaller packages would be more conspicuous because Emery ships mostly heavy freight.     Norman Black, spokesman for the Atlanta-based United Parcel Service, said no one regularly monitors packages that come through UPS for drugs. However, he said the company cooperates with authorities when they ask to check packages. Published: December 26, 1999Copyright 1995-1999 The Cincinnati Enquirer 
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