Mail Security Alert, Apr 2021: White Powder, Extortion & Death Threats

mail security alert May 2021

Globally, mail threats for April increased with an emphasis on political and governmental targets. As the world emerges from the quarantine and restarts daily life, emotions are increasingly on edge.

The pandemic has contributed to political leaders and elected officials are receiving death threats and general aggression, based on some of the public’s perception of failures — all significant threats to mail security.

Racial hate speech in the mail is on the rise, primarily targeting pro-equality organizations. Recent anti-Asian American aggression added to historical anti-African American sentiment is causing federal authorities to respond. In the United States, charges are being filed and penalties are expected to be severe to combat the aggression.

White powder events continue to cause a significant impact on those targeting and increased responses from hazmat teams and police.

Drugs were intercepted both in residential and commercial scenarios with several stores receiving up to a dozen white powder packages. These packages have no return address and most likely are attempts to ship product into a new area for dealers to retrieve and distribute.

And “glitter bombs” returned this month, targeting celebrities.

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United States Mail Security Incidents

Drugs and racially-motivated threatening letters sent through the mail increased again in April over March.

These threats began rising after the January 6th events on the Capitol in Washington DC. Those targeted were primarily African American and Asian American or facilities that represent those communities.

Ideological locations with ties or direct correlation to those groups should increase screening and understand the heightened risk to both the physical locations and the high profile individuals associated.

Drugs also rose both in size and frequency this month. Smuggling in jails and prisons as well as what appear to be drug dealers who have moved operations off of street corners and into the USPS.

These events have occurred both in the private residence and inside of company mailrooms as work locations begin to open back up.

Apr 27, 2021

The president and CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History went public Tuesday with news of a series of threatening letters that began after the Capitol insurrection and shortly before the Biden/Harris administration took office.

“They were targeting us as a conduit to other Black leaders, threats against President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, even Nancy Pelosi,” said president and CEO Perri Irmer. “The minute I saw the content of this mail, I reached out to the US Secret Service.”

In all, the museum, which is the nation’s oldest independent Black museum, has received six letters espousing hate and vitriol since Jan 22. The latest one received was last Friday, April 23. The museum has also encountered threatening letters in the past, during former President Barack Obama’s tenure.

As a result, security has been increased on an already tight budget amid the coronavirus pandemic. Officials tell WGN the Chicago Police Department, the FBI and Secret Service are investigating.
Given the racially motivated deadly attacks of the recent past, being upfront and keenly aware is important but so is not to be intimidated, Irmer added.

“It’s a difficult time for everybody in the country and in the world but we have to acknowledge the times we are living in,” Irmer said. “We have to take everything seriously whether it’s a direct threat or indirect threat because those are the times we live in, unfortunately.”

Apr 1, 2021

A letter sent to an Asian-owned business in Utah threatening Asians and praising the shootings in Georgia is under investigation, police said.

The Unified Police Department told McClatchy News that the letter was sent to an Asian business in Taylorsville and that police are working with the U.S. Postal Inspector because it was sent via U.S. mail.

“In the letter, it states that Asians need to go back to wherever they came from or more Asians may be killed. Very disturbing honestly,” powder poses no threat, the packages seem intended to “cause disruption and alarm” rather than injury, police said last week.

The letter was sent the weekend after shootings at Atlanta spas left eight people dead, including six Asian women, Deseret News reported. The letter celebrated the Georgia killings and said Asians “caused COVID-19” and “need to go back to their countries” before they’re killed.

“All (Asians) must go home now. Spread the word or you may die,” the letter reads, according to the publication.

Apr 29, 2021

Two Ventura County residents were arrested Wednesday for smuggling drugs into the Ventura County Jail.

On Wednesday at around 5 p.m., deputies at the Todd Road Jail Classification Unit along with Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit detectives completed their investigation into the drug smuggling incident.

Investigators said they determined that one inmate at the jail had worked with an Oxnard woman to smuggle the drugs through the Ventura County Jail inmate mail system.

Throughout April, investigators intercepted mail that they said secretly contained Suboxone and methamphetamine. Todd Road Classification Unit detectives located similar letters during the jail contraband control searches.

In their investigation they found that the inmate along with the Oxnard woman reportedly formulated specific plans to avoid jail security measures in order for the drugs to be smuggled in.

Apr 9, 2021

A suspicious package that was being shipped to an address in Newburgh led detectives in Warrick County to recover over 1,200 illegal THC vape cartridges. On April 5, authorities with the Warrick County Sheriff’s Office were made aware of the suspicious package.

Officials say the package was flagged, and after a positive K9 alert, detectives got a search warrant. Inside, they say they found 1,224 THC cartridges that had an approximate street value of $30,000.

Warrick County detectives, along with help from the Newburgh Police Department, set up a controlled delivery. They say the package was ultimately accepted at the residence. According to the sheriff’s office, they were granted a search warrant for that residence, where they found additional THC cartridges and 104 marijuana-infused Rice Krispie treats.

Apr 13, 2021

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the Houston Police Department and the Houston Fire Department assisted the FBI in Houston in a review of suspicious mail sent to Houston Jewelry, including two letters hazmat crews inspected on Tuesday.

The dozen or so pieces of mail, some containing substances, have been sent to the Houston store over the last week-and-a-half from a man named Arthur in Redding, California.

“When I opened it, there were white crystals in the package,” said Jean Robingston, the Houston Jewelry secretary who opened the first letter.

“I’ve seen anthrax, I knew it wasn’t anthrax,” she added. “but you never know what it is.”

Houston Fire Department hazmat crews determined the substance in the first letter was a type of dishwasher detergent, Houston Jewelry President Rex Solomon said.

“We can confirm that we are aware of the incident,” FBI Houston said in a statement. “If during the FBI’s review of the matter, it is determined that a violation of federal law was committed, the FBI will proceed accordingly.”

Apr 19, 2021

Police are investigating after a mystery package was sent to Tom Ellis’ home.

The ‘Lucifer’ star and his wife Meaghan Oppenheimer called in cops after they were left scared when a glitter bomb – a box filled with glitter – was sent to their Los Angeles abode and they were particularly concerned that the parcel was addressed to the screenwriter, rather than her more famous husband.

According to TMZ, LAPD’s Threat Management division are now investigating and have a lead on a suspect.

Apr 21, 2021

After a Jackson resident received a suspicious package containing a white powder in the mail, police are still investigating its origin. On April 20, the resident contacted the Jackson Police Department headquarters regarding a suspicious package found with a white powder substance inside. A watch commander then took the package and immediately relocated it outside headquarters.

The Cassville Fire Department, Berkeley and Joint Base MDL Hazmat Units were notified about the package and quickly arrived to test the substance. As a precaution, the headquarters lobby was closed off until the substance could be identified. After inspecting the package, it was determined that the substance inside was baking soda and not hazardous.

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International Mail Security Incidents

Intimidation and threats through mail against political leadership caught significant press and forced public statements.

In Spain, these threats were screened by local authorities and were delivered to the target.

Bloody knives and bullets intended to intimidate and send a message were sent to elected officials and local authorities expect these threats to continue.

Germany has been tracking and finally arrested a man responsible for more than a hundred pro-Nazi and letters across the country over an almost four-year period.

Apr 28, 2021

Spanish postal workers intercepted a death threat letter with two bullets enclosed that was mailed to the conservative head of the Madrid region, the Interior Ministry said late on Tuesday, just days after her hard-left rival in an election for the regional assembly received a similar threat.

The ministry said the threat against regional chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso was discovered in a mail processing hub in Catalonia. Another letter, also containing bullets, was sent to the chief of the Guardia Civil police, the ministry’s statement said.

Election frontrunner Ayuso played down the threat, telling the 13 TV channel on Tuesday night: “These things must be faced with the importance they have: none”.

Apr 26, 2021

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on Monday she had received a knife covered in red stains in the mail, and police announced they had identified a suspect. El Pais newspaper, La Sexta television, and other media reported that the main suspect was a man with mental health issues and that police were not linking the incident to a recent series of death threats to other public figures.

Reuters could not confirm those reports independently.
Politicians across the political spectrum initially raised the alarm when Maroto said she received the package. The knife had arrived on Friday with a return address on the package, she said.

Without suggesting who might be behind those earlier letters, Marlaska on Monday blamed a culture of political polarization for allowing hate speech to flourish.

Apr 5, 2021

German police have arrested a man on suspicion of sending dozens of threatening letters to politicians, lawyers and journalists.

The letters contained “hateful, insulting and threatening content” and were signed with the acronym of a neo-Nazi group, officials said on Tuesday
A 53-year-old suspect was detained after a search of his apartment in the capital city Berlin, prosecutors said.

The unemployed man accused of being behind the campaign has previous convictions for “numerous crimes, including ones motivated by right-wing ideology,” prosecutors said.
Police say the suspect had sent almost 100 letters to people and organizations across Germany and Austria since August 2018.

The letters were mainly addressed to public figures known for their commitment against racism and anti-Semitism, as well as to immigrants themselves.

Apr 29, 2021

An estimated $.3m in cocaine was found hidden in preserved fruits at the TTPost National Mail Centre in Piarco yesterday evening.

The cocaine find came mere hours after Customs and Excise Division officers and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) made a significant arms and ammunition discovery at a Central warehouse in Couva on Monday night, which followed another large arms and ammunition find last Friday at the bond at the Piarco International Airport.

The officers later dissected the prunes and cherries in the preserved packets and found what appeared to be cocaine inside. The drugs were later weighed and some 610 grams were discovered. Sources say the estimated street value was US$55,000 (TT$374,000).
The shipment was destined for the United States.

Apr 9, 2021

A 76-year-old man has been arrested for importing drugs after 1.5kg of liquid cocaine was discovered in a package at an Auckland mail centre.

Customs discovered the liquid drug in late March after intercepting the package when it arrived at the International Mail Centre.

That led to police executing a search warrant at a Christchurch address on Wednesday where they discovered cocaine and a significant amount of cash, police said today.

A 76-year-old man was charged with importing a Class A controlled drug and possession of cocaine for supply and remanded in custody to reappear in Christchurch District Court on April 15.

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