Sixteen employees of the U.S. Postal System in Atlanta received federal prison sentences for accepting bribes to deliver cocaine. According to the Northern District of Georgia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, some of the bribes were as low as $250. Federal officials said that each postal worker got sentences ranging between three years and nine years.
Federal agents were investigating a drug trafficking ring in Atlanta, starting in 2015, when they initially learned of these crimes. Drug traffickers believed that postal workers would fly under the radar of law enforcement – and they were correct.
Criminals Trust the Post Office
The Postal Service touts itself as a government agency we can trust, and traffickers came to trust it as well. One trafficker made almost 4,000 shipments and reported a delivery rate of almost 100 percent. In fact, a September report by the Office of Inspector General for the Postal Service Office found that getting drugs to customers through the U.S. mail was both effective and low-risk.
In what seems like a movie plot, a federal agent posed as drug dealer and looked for postal employees who were delivering cocaine in exchange for bribes. The agents easily located many willing collaborators. These postal workers agreed to deliver the drug parcels and even haggled over their payment. Law enforcement personnel then recorded those interactions while watching from afar.
All of the defendants in the case chose delivery of cocaine over marijuana, believing the more illicit the drug, the higher the bribe would be. The workers additionally suggested friends of theirs for the plot when requested by the undercover agent – and they received a bonus for each package their recruit delivered.
Capitol Hill lawmakers are attempting to make it less difficult for the Postal Service to protect itself from incidents like this. However, the inspector general says that constitutional limits and regulations of the postal service hamstring their efforts. Private carriers can make individual contracts with their customers that provide a stipulation that allows opening and inspecting packages. However, the postal service cannot make such inspections. As a result, criminals prefer using the Postal Service.