Postal service providers play a big role in the dark web drug trade; they facilitate delivery of drug packages unknowingly. Dependence on postal services to deliver packages has proven to be a big challenge to dark web drug trade, as postal inspectors have been intercepting mailed packages leading to arrests and subsequent prosecution of alleged package owners.
Jesse McMahon, 25, who has been in custody since June is an interception victim of packages delivered through the mail. He was arrested after the police intercepted a 2kg cannabis parcel on its way to his unit. A sting operation the next day saw the police seize $9,000 in cash, the bags of cannabis, more loose cannabis and even knuckledusters. He told the police he had planned to sell the cannabis by the ounce and half ounce, and would likely have made $30,000.
McMahon pleaded guilty to a string of drug and weapon charges, making him the latest in a growing number of drug dealers in court. He was busted by the police buying drugs online using Bitcoins.
Prosecutor Daniel Warner Collins said the amount of drug deliveries coming in by post grew exponentially. “Drug dealers who buy bulk quantities of illegal drugs on the so-called dark web are not the highly sophisticated cyber criminals they think they are, and are somewhere closer to amateur hour suburban crooks.
“In this day and age anyone can purchase cannabis, it appears, without leaving their room. That is, ordering it, paying for it and receiving it,” the prosecutor said.
Chief Justice Michael Grant, in charge of the McMahon case said buying drugs over the internet is in some ways sophisticated and in other ways naïve. “It’s coming through Winnellie Post Office and all they have to do is wait there with a police dog,” he said.
Increased use of the US Postal Services to deliver packages from the dark web saw the US Postal Inspection Service list jobs for an “investigative (internet) analyst” and an “intelligence gathering specialist’’, applicants were required to have experience with the darknet, the Tor network and bitcoins. The jobs were meant to help curb dark web crimes and cybercrimes facilitated by use of the postal service. USPIS officers were to depend on the internet analyst and intelligence gathering specialist to identify high value targets and to unmask their identities.
The opioids crisis in the US has seen many regulatory bodies turn their attention to the postal facilities in the country. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August sent dozens of employees to international mail facilities run by the US Postal Service to aid in detecting and analyzing suspicious packages. The opioids are believed to be entering into the country via international mail.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and currently posing the greatest challenge to various law enforcement agencies. Fentanyl is believed to be ordered from China through the dark web and delivered by mail to the US and other countries such as Canada. President Trump’s commission recommended enhanced screening of mail with drug-sniffing dogs and scrutiny of electronic data. The commission indicated in its report that detection of fentanyl and its analogues shipped into the US via international mail and express consignment presents a unique challenge. Authorities have indicated that the difficulty in curbing fentanyl supply is that many shipments are in small quantities and thus arrive in small packages difficult to screen. Just a few granules of fentanyl are fatal.