Ever notice that sometimes, your mail takes a tad longer to arrive than it should? It could be that Big Brother decided to pull your package from the normal delivery process, as part of their ongoing efforts to detect drug trafficking via Express Mail. What you might not expect is that our Constitution protects our mail from government intrusion–though there are some red flags that will convince a judge to allow the post office to open a package.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what happens in a drug trafficking case involving mailed packages. When a package is taken out of it’s normal mail cycle, it is considered “seized”, and as such, law enforcement must have “reasonable suspicion” to do so (as you know, our government may only seize our stuff when they have a reasonable suspicion that we’re committing a crime of some sort). Once the package is ‘seized’, it may be examined by a drug dog, and a warrant will be issued to open the package should the dog alert for the presence of drugs (typically, the post office will line up 6 packages, five which they know do not contain drugs, and the suspected package). If drugs are found, a “controlled delivery” of the package will be conducted by undercover officers. Basically, a controlled delivery is simply an undercover cop dressing up as a mailman, driving the mail truck to the address, and even delivering mail to neighbors to make the delivery seem more believable. Whoever accepts the package will be arrested. In addition, a judge may also issue an anticipatory search warrant of the entire home to which the package was delivered.