In the past few years, there has been an increase in cases of courier services being used to deliver drugs by sellers on the dark web.
Law enforcement has been able to apprehend a few of the individuals behind these deals, particularly in the United States with assistance from the U.S. Postal Service.
But now in the U.K., the Royal Mail has been found to be used at a frequent rate to send cannabis-hidden envelopes which have Christmas cards in them.
It is only by the strong smell the drug gives out that the staff at the post offices discovered the supply and called in the police to register the complaints.
Drug Dealers Find It Convenient to Deliver
The reason the postal service, in this case, the Royal Mail, is being used by the drug dealers is that it is very difficult to trace the sender. The envelope containing the drug is dropped off in the post boxes kept in public places and the drug dealers can use anyone to drop off the packet in the boxes.
The way it works could be that one person gets the drugs in bulk into the country and then sells it online in smaller quantities. Birthday gifts and cards and greeting cards on holiday occasions give them the right camouflage.
As mentioned, some drugs, like cannabis, carry a very distinct scent. While being sorted at the destination to the Royal Mail post office, the sorting clerks notice the smell and then inspect the envelopes further.
This is precisely how the matter has come to light from a post office in Swindon. According to a Facebook post from Swindon South Police, the Royal Mail recently intercepted envelopes containing cannabis in holiday and birthday cards.
Upon investigation, Swindon South Police agents found even more such packages with drugs in them.
Police Destroy the Packages
It takes considerable effort to trace the mail back and find the offender. Geographical imitations often hinder a probe by the local police, as well. The quantity involved could be too small to rope in a federal agency.
Interestingly, some of these mail parcels with drugs inside originate from outside the U.K. Under the circumstances, the local postal authorities and the police officials find the option of destroying the drugs the best.
Law Enforcement Action Requires Better Investigation Techniques
One way the investigative agency can try and nab the culprit is to use the details of the addressee on the envelopes containing the drugs to keep some kind of surveillance.
But this is easier said than done since drug buyers often set up a pick-up location which is not connected to their real name or identity.
Additionally, law enforcement need to conduct investigations to prove a suspect’s connection to the drug transaction over the dark web.
There are ways that users can obscure their correspondence by encoding it or using a VPN to achieve the same. There are end-to-end encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp that give them the freedom to communicate without being found out. So, in the ultimate analysis, it is a long-winding process to pin the drug dealers down.
Limited Success for Police
There have been cases where specialist agencies focusing on narcotics investigations have been able to capture some drug dealers. In one such case, similar to the Royal Mail case reported above, a major courier service suspected that they were handling a package containing a banned narcotic substance and they called in the law enforcement.
There were other cases in the U.S. of law enforcement agents creating decoy accounts in the dark web to act undercover as drug buyers so they can then initiate a sting operation and apprehend the suspects red-handed. Federal agents have also started disguising themselves postal workers to catch suspects.
But again, new investigation techniques are needed to crack down on darknet drug dealers that are increasingly clever at finding ways to evade police detection.