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Office of Investigations | Case Highlights

Get to Know Our Innovative Narcotics Program

Date: 03/27/24 | Category: Narcotics

Our investigative work covers a range of areas including mail theft, healthcare provider and claimant fraud, and contract and financial fraud. But when one considers the nation’s growing opioids crisis, perhaps no other area has so much at stake as our dedicated Narcotics program.

We launched the program in 2016 to identify and investigate the possession and distribution of narcotics by Postal Service employees. And we rarely work alone: we consistently partner with the Postal Inspection Service, DEA, FBI, HSI, and other law enforcement agencies. Our collaboration measurably augments the scope and impact of our investigations.

Our expertly trained special agents and subject matter experts advance our work by identifying drug trafficking trends. For instance, case-related trends have progressed from simple possession-and-use cases on USPS property to investigations focused on complex conspiracies between postal employees and highly organized Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs).

More and more, DTOs are targeting postal employees given their access to the vast postal network. And for DTOs, the goal is simple: lure postal employees so they take the fall in exchange for trivial pay. For this reason, our efforts also aim to disrupt domestic and international DTOs and any postal employees who collude with them.

Consistent with recent years, we’ve observed DTOs increase in sophistication, becoming smarter and communicating with postal employees through encrypted messaging services and various social media platforms. These services inadvertently help hide their identity and leave behind a more covert electronic trail. One of our recent Investigative Case Highlights details how an enticing yet seemingly innocent message kicked off the beginning of the end for one postal employee’s career.

In addition of staying on top of the latest trends, our Office of Investigations leverages both a resolute investigative approach in the field and a vigorous data analytics program. Together, they help identify suspicious parcels and delivery patterns, as well as inappropriate or suspicious behavior by postal personnel.

We also strategically employ our resources in areas of high transnational drug trafficking, such as Arizona, California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas — states that due to their proximity to drug-exporting countries make for a greater influx of narcotics. We also see high activity in high drug distribution states, such as New York, and high consumption metro areas in states such as Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. We strategically position our narcotics agents throughout the country to maximize our ability to focus on the illicit drug problem in those areas of greatest concern.

This work is immensely difficult yet also rewarding: our special agents take pride in saving lives, and not just the lives of those who abuse drugs, but also innocent postal employees. When a postal employee profiles and pulls a drug shipment out of the mailstream, it endangers the life of the mail carrier who would have delivered the diverted parcel. In 2021, in two separate cases, mail carriers in New York and Rhode Island were kidnapped by DTOs after they were mistakenly identified as having stolen drug parcels that were taken out of the mailstream in plants.

The OIG takes any allegation of a postal employee conspiring with a DTO seriously and will exhaust all resources to fully investigate any such claim. Those who break the law or abuse the system will be held accountable to protect the integrity of the U.S. Mail, and to deter criminals from taking advantage of the postal system.

Help us in this important work: if you suspect or know of drug trafficking involving Postal Service employees or contractors, please report it to our Hotline.