While most drug charges involve relatively small amounts of a controlled substance, authorities aim to make larger-scale trafficking arrests whenever possible.
According to a recent news article from AL.com, officials with the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force (WANTF), along with members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and United States postal inspectors, arrested two post office employees and two other men for allegedly trafficking and distributing more than 500 pounds of marijuana.
Authorities say they began their investigation in 2014, when they first learned of large shipments of marijuana being sent to Tuscaloosa. As our Birmingham drug crimesdefense attorneys can explain, it is much more difficult to smuggle illegal drugs through the United States mail than one might think. Especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, along with the anthrax scare, and the Unabomber, packages are sent through highly sensitive screening machines and police dogs patrol package handling centers to identify any suspicious packages.
While many assume they will just confiscate the package, they may choose instead to conduct a full-on investigation, intending to arrest and convict both the shipper and recipient.
Authorities alleged this scheme involved postal workers assigned to three different post offices who were all working for a well-known alleged drug trafficker. These postal workers were allegedly supposed to help these packages clear inspection and notify the drug trafficker if authorities were monitoring any packages. This worked, to a large extent, and made it very difficult for authorities to conduct their investigation, though it obviously did not work as well as the defendants had hoped.
One of the defendants, a 34-year-old male suspect who allegedly ran the operation, was arrested last week and charged with multiple counts of distribution of marijuana, attempted distribution of marijuana and several other related offenses. While many states are decriminalizing marijuana, it is important to understand that any crime involving the U.S. mail is a federal offense, and marijuana is still listed on Schedule One of the United States Controlled Substances Act (USCSA). His bond was set at over a million dollars.
A 34-year-old postal worker was also arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Her bond was set around $1,500,000. Another postal worker was charged with two counts of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and, due to his lesser alleged role in the operation, he is being held on $60,000 bond. Additionally, there was a man arrested who was charged with conspiracy and several other felonies, and he does not work with the postal service.
While all four of these suspects live in Tuscaloosa, authorities say they plan to make several more arrests in the coming weeks involving suspects who live in other parts of the country. The postal inspectors are federal law enforcement agents that investigate any crimes involving the United States mail and have jurisdiction throughout the county.
It is important to note that all of these suspects are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty in a court of a law. One of things federal prosecutors like to do in cases like this is to charge several separate offenses and then try to get suspects to plead guilty in exchange for dropping some of the charges.
Agents arrest Tuscaloosa postal workers accused of helping criminals traffic 500 pounds of weed, August 7, 2015, By Stephen Dethrage, AL.com