Mail Security Alert, Jun 2021: Evolution of threats in the post-pandemic world

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June brought some interesting events that highlight the evolution of threats in the post-pandemic world. Over the last several months the rise in incidents has not seen much in the way of significant trends regarding targets. High-profile government targets rose sharply this month and with it an increased amount of media coverage. 

June’s events shifted regarding targets and saw government facilities, political parties, and multiple country’s leadership targeted. Each of these events occurred for very different reasons but the trends show mailed threats towards high profile threats will continue.

Overall the trend threat type followed expected paths with one significant outlier that rose significantly. Both the United States and the International incidents saw a clear increase in both “death threat” and “hate” mail. These events forced a detailed response from the local authorities and several of the government events garnered a national-level legal action.  

White powder and biological threats held steady this month and targeted historically normal locations and people with a few interesting highlights. Government targets were higher in locations that hold public activities like the state facilities and courthouses where the shutdown benefited a perpetrator with a mandatory appearance. Drugs overall dropped this month both in the United States and overseas.

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United States Mail Security Incidents

Drugs and racially-motivated threatening letters sent through the mail increased substantially in June.

The United States saw a major increase in threat and hate mail throughout the month.  Targetting primarily political movements or efforts with a large percentage being the “Black Lives Matter” leadership or supporters. 

Many of the threats were presenting future escalations to physical harm and were dropped off or mailed to multiple locations within a small geographic region.  The FBI is involved in most of these events they have been tied to small groups or individuals with a history of aggression.  

Jun 4, 2021

A series of clandestinely mailed letters targeting supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have prompted some Plano residents to file reports to city and U.S. Postal Service authorities.

It is unclear if any of the letters are related to others, and it is even less clear who wrote the letters as some of them did not have a return address, but some recipients are alleging that they constitute harassment.

One recipient posted a picture of the envelope with the address redacted on Reddit’s r/Plano community board, saying in a comment, “A racist and harassing letter was delivered to my address. Two other people in my neighborhood have gotten similar but different letters since Feb.”

“There was no return address or anyone taking responsibility,” the source explained after agreeing to speak to Star Local Media on the condition of anonymity. “I looked at the blog that some of the materials are from and it’s run by someone who has a name that lives in my neighborhood. I obviously can’t confirm that that’s the sender but the US postal inspector office is looking into the matter. I appear to be the only one who’s actually reported it to the Postal Service so far.”

Jun 24, 2021

At least three residents in Forest Grove received menacing letters in the mail this week from an anonymous sender appearing to threaten them for flying Black Lives Matter flags.

The identical letters, each in the same large black font, said: “Thank you for flying the BLM flag. It will make it easier to identify who is a socialist, racist, woke and un-American when the fighting breaks out.”

Police said they received one report, from couple Matt and Kate Barrett, and two other unofficial reports from community members who received the same letter. As of Friday, Forest Grove police said they haven’t received additional reports about similar letters.

“We know that even within the police force in our community there are people who vehemently disagree with Black Lives Matter and other civil rights actions,” Matt Barrett said. “It’s hard to report something when you have a hunch that it may not get to the right authorities or the right voice.”

May 25, 2021

Officers from the Manassas City Police Department responded to a suspicious incident in the 9300 block of Prescott Avenue around 1:30 p.m. A woman reported finding an envelope in her mailbox with the words “Open please anthrax inside” written on the outside. 

In the course of their investigation, police determined that the envelope was not a credible threat. In fact, it contained a thank you note instead.

 

Jun 24, 2021

Lake Oswego police and fire responded to a report Wednesday, June 23, of a suspicious substance found in a package at the city’s DMV station on Monroe Parkway. In the end, it was just a sweet surprise.

The DMV reported the white substance around 2 p.m. Wednesday. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s Hazmat Team was called in to assess the danger of the substance, which was soon determined to be sugar.

“At this point we still have to look into it to see if this was intentionally to scare people or if it’s just a benign kind of thing, so we have not determined that yet,” said Lake Oswego Police Department Sgt. Tom Hamann.The spokeswoman said the Charlotte County hazmat team was called in. According to officials, the piece of mail was tested but nothing suspicious was found. The two employees were released from the hospital yesterday afternoon.

Jun 23, 2021

A Tennessee nurse who admitted to mailing feces and a blood-stained feminine product to her husband’s ex-wife is facing federal charges.

Della Marie Gibson Lathum, 37, admitted to police in April that she mailed packages with human feces and a letter containing a bloody sanitary pad. The blood was from a patient at the Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville where Gibson was a registered nurse, she told police in a voluntary interview.

The packages and letter were sent through the mail to Gibson’s husband’s ex-wife in Loudon County, who Gibson had allegedly been stalking and harassing for months. She told police she wanted “the kids” to know that the ex-wife lived off of the system and was lazy, the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office report said. The victim’s name was not released.

Gibson also admitted to police that she mailed the ex-wife a letter in April that included a derogatory message. Gibson reportedly stamped the envelope with the hospital’s “New Patient” stamp in red ink and labeled the return address as “Women’s Health Specialist.”

Jun 25, 2021

On June 4, officers inspected a Caribbean shipment that appeared to contain documents, but after an x-ray exam showed anomalies within the shipment’s contents, agents discovered multiple thick, black, zippered folders containing about three pounds of an unknown white powder. Tests showed the powder was cocaine. The shipment was headed to a residence in Perth, Australia.

Five days later, officers found more than 11 pounds of liquid cocaine inside a shipment of cosmetics coming from Mexico. After opening the package, officers noticed three shampoo bottles filled with a thick liquid that appeared inconsistent in color and texture. The unknown liquid, which was going to a residence in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, tested positive for cocaine.

Jun 8, 2021

Kim Kardashian’s security team is working OT once again — this time intercepting a disturbing package from a fan that included a diamond engagement ring … and Plan B. 

Sources with direct knowledge tell us the package, addressed to Kim, was sent to her home and discovered by her guards on June 3. We’re told Kim’s team has reason to believe the items were sent by a man who’s shown up there several times in the past.  Our sources say the man first came to Kim’s home in February, asking to see her, and then again, just a couple of weeks ago, he showed up to her gated community claiming he was there to pick her up for dinner.

He’s allegedly been harassing her online too, posting a self-made marriage certificate and another item that read, “Queen Kimberly” is “sitting up in thy big castle alone waiting for her Knight in Shining Armor.”

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International Mail Security Incidents

Government targets and individual leaders of political parties saw a significant increase this month.

From the last-mile threat being dropped off at Chancellor Merkel’s office to the delivery of a threat to the Danish Royal family at the Palace, these events drew significant responses.  

As expected these events garnered quite a bit of attention, the senders were quickly identified, and charges were filed. 

These do however highlight the significant shortfalls in security with one suspect package getting into the room a Danish princess for example. During June, many of the threats ended up deep inside the target location and next to the intended target.

Jun 22, 2021

The building of the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs in Madrid has been evacuated over a suspicious parcel received by the agency, Spanish El Mundo newspaper reported on Tuesday, adding that it was a false alarm.

The suspicious package was screened at the security checkpoint at the entrance. The building was evacuated after which the Tedax bomb disposal units arrived at the scene.

In April, the Spanish minister of industry, trade and tourism, Reyes Maroto, received a red-stained knife along with a threatening letter sent to his office. Also in April, the leader of the left-wing party Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and the head of the Civil Guard, Maria Gamez, were reported to have received threatening letters with bullet cartridges inside.

Jun 24, 2021

A suspicious package in the mailbox of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency office in Stralsund has led to the partial closure of the center of the city in the north of the country.

Those in the offices at the time, as well as residents of the surrounding buildings, were evacuated while large parts of this area in the center of the city were cordoned off and locked for a few hours in the afternoon of this Thursday.

Thanks to the detailed description of the witnesses, a 43-year-old German was identified and arrested. The reason why he left the package, which contained only unimportant items, is still unknown. “There were no dangerous substances in the package, only everyday objects. A letter with white powder is still being examined,” police spokeswoman Jennifer Fischer told “Bild”.

Jun 24, 2021

On May 25, the office of the principal secretary to the chief minister received a mail addressed to the chief minister. The sender used highly abusive language against the chief minister. Owing to sensitivity of the matter the chief security officer of the chief minister lodged a complaint at Gonda police station under section 385 (putting a person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion), 387 (whoever, in order to the committing of extortion, puts or attempts to put any person in fear of death or of grievous hurt to that person) of IPC and sections of IT Act.

He was arrested on June 3 from Bengaluru. During the investigation, it was found the accused was suffering from depression and he had no criminal intention behind sending a threatening mail to the chief minister of Jharkhand. He was found to be from a good family with no criminal record hence he was released after he furnished a personal bond. 

Jun 17, 2021

A woman has been arrested after allegedly sending a suspicious package to Princess Mary’s Danish home Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen.

The bomb squad was called in on Tuesday and parts of the palace – specifically the Yellow Palace next door to the family’s main residences – were sealed off just before 9 am when a package was sent.

Photos show police and emergency workers gathered at the scene before the item was deemed harmless. By 3 pm that afternoon police confirmed a 57-year-woman had been taken into custody in Ribe, a Danish town, and arrested in connection with the scare.

Jun 18, 2021

On Thursday (June 17), an explosion took place at Darbhanga Junction Railway station in Darbhanga district of Bihar. A registered package had reportedly exploded. The said parcel was sent to Darbhanga from Secunderabad in Telangana. On Thursday (June 17), an explosion took place at Darbhanga Junction Railway station in Darbhanga district of Bihar. A registered package had reportedly exploded. The said parcel was sent to Darbhanga from Secunderabad in Telangana.

As per reports, the blast took place at 3:25 pm near the escalator of the Government Railway Police (GRP) station on platform number 1. The parcel immediately caught fire, creating a situation of panic and fear. On hearing a loud thud, a team led by GRP station-in-charge Harun Rashid and Railway Protection Force (RPF) Inspector Brajesh Kumar reached the spot. The cops doused the fire and began a probe in the case.

Jun 4, 2021

Officers were called to the mail depot on Thursday afternoon after postal workers were concerned about a ‘particularly smelly’ delivery.

A brick of cannabis wrapped in a sock was uncovered by officers.

The package was addressed to a Fareham property, and the intended recipient was ‘spoken to and given words of advice’, according to a spokesman from Hampshire Constabulary.

He added that officers believe the package was ordered online as the label was prepaid and printed for Royal Mail Click and Drop. He said: ‘When packages are flagged by Royal Mail or UKBA as suspicious, the package can be opened to ensure illegal or illicit items are recovered and appropriately disposed of.

‘Packages without suspicion or intercepted based on Intelligence, can only be opened under a RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) authority or by court-issued warrant.’

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