Mail Security Alert, August 2021: Drugs Spike with Delta Variant

Mail Security Alert 2021-08 Aug 3x2.

August mail threats saw an overall bump up in the number of mail-related events. It also saw a definite break between what happened in the United States and the International events.

Overall, the United States incidents were heavily skewed towards drugs while the international events continued to revolve around political and criminal (non-drug) categories.  

The rise in events is most likely tied to restrictions from the increase of the Delta variant. 

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United States Mail Security Incidents

White powder events rose this month along with the illicit drug numbers. “White powder” was sent to multiple targets that represented everything from controversial news stations to schools. 

On the latter, the last 60 days data shows a trend we can expect to continue. Powder threats cause a much larger response and interruptions within a school and get the students much more time out of the classroom. Fire alarms turned to bomb threats have now turned to powder in an envelope.  

Drug incidents with smaller total amounts of “product” rose significantly this month most likely due to successful policing and actions at the border.  

This is driving up the number of attempts while driving down the overall size of the packages to avoid detection.  

Aug 13, 2021

Officials were investigating what was being called a “hazmat situation” at the News Corp. Building on Sixth Avenue over a letter with an unknown, white, powdery substance, according to police.

Following an investigation, officials at FOX News Media said the substance was not deemed to be hazardous.

“An envelope containing a white powdery substance was opened at FOX News Media today,” a FOX News spokesperson said. “We immediately notified the NYPD’s Hazmat unit and the FDNY, both of which responded accordingly and our offices were given an all clear after it was determined that the substance was non-hazardous. We are very grateful for their swift attention to this incident.”

Aug 24, 2021

The FBI is trying to figure out what was inside a suspicious package sent to a school in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill South neighbourhood. Pittsburgh Police say the Bomb Squad, HAZMAT and the Spill Truck responded to the Community Day School in the 6400 block of Forward Avenue Tuesday morning.

An unknown white powder was inside the package, police say, which was delivered by mail a day earlier from an address outside of the country. No one reported any adverse side effects from being in the vicinity of the powder, and the school wasn’t evacuated. After onsite tests, police say the composition of the substance wasn’t immediately determined. FBI Pittsburgh removed the package to be tested with its equipment.

Aug 21, 2021

On Friday, August 20, 2021 the Kentucky State Police reported that: Troopers with Kentucky State Police, Post 1 have arrested a Marshall County man on numerous drug charges. Through investigation, Troopers learned a package containing illegal drugs was being shipped through the mail via FedEx.

Troopers intercepted the package which contained approximately 10 lbs. of suspected Marijuana and 1 lb. of suspected Hallucinogenic Mushrooms.

Aug 21, 2021

A Johnstown man is in custody after authorities say they intercepted a package containing 600 grams for cocaine at the city post office.

According to investigators, 34-year-old Clinton Dudley is facing six felony counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, six third degree felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility, and six misdemeanour counts of possession of a controlled substance.

The United States Postal Inspection Service intercepted a suspicious parcel Aug. 11, so a search warrant was executed to search the package, according to a criminal complaint.

Inspectors say they opened the box and found a stereo speaker inside, and inside the speaker, they found about 600 grams of cocaine wrapped in electrical tape.

Aug 17, 2021

A 26-year-old man from Key West was arrested Monday after a package containing cocaine that was addressed to him was intercepted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. According to MCSO spokesman Adam Linhardt, the package contained an ounce of cocaine.

“Two Sheriff’s Office Detectives were conducting some package interdiction training with U.S. Postal Inspectors earlier this month in Fort Lauderdale when they came across a package addressed to Houle,” Linhardt wrote in an email to Local 10 News. “Sheriff’s Office K9 Coral alerted to the presence of drugs in the package.”

Linhardt said a sheriff’s office detective, a U.S. Postal inspector and an agent from U.S Homeland Security Investigations went to Zachary David Houle’s home with the package on Monday.

He said Houle confessed that he was expecting an ounce of cocaine to be delivered to him in the mail and agreed to open the package in front of the law enforcement officials. Linhardt said Houle also admitted that he had received similar packages in the mail in the past.

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International Mail Security Incidents

International events for August continued on trend with both targets and the amount of illicit material found. 

Governments, primarily high profile, are being targeted because of topics ranging from the handling of Afghanistan shut down to the continually in the news Catholic church.  

Overall, these events were caught by the security teams and no major injuries or incidents occurred throughout the month. It does highlight the general seriousness that the international community has towards mail-borne threats.

Historically there have simply been more of them overseas.

Aug 9, 2021

Italian police are investigating a disturbing death threat addressed to Pope Francis. Law enforcement in Milan has confirmed an envelope containing three bullets was sent to the Vatican.

The suspicious package was intercepted by staff at a mail sorting facility before it reached the Pope and had been sent from France, according to police.

A handwritten address on the envelope read: ‘The Pope, Vatican City, St Peter’s Square, Rome’.

According to Italian police, the three bullets are presumed to be for a pistol and the envelope also contained a message alluding to financial operations at the Vatican.

Representatives of the Holy See are yet to comment and an investigation is ongoing. The development comes after a difficult period for the charismatic 84-year-old church leader.

August 31, 2021

A package thought to be containing explosives triggered a bomb scare Monday at the house of Mayor Preciliano Ruiz of this town.

Ruiz said the suspicious package was delivered to his house around 2 p.m. and did not bear the name of the sender.

He said the package was marked only with “Bangkal, Makati” as the place of origin.  “I never received a call or an email informing me about this package so I called the police,” Ruiz told the Inquirer in a text message.

Local police and a team from the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit of the province were deployed to the mayor’s house.  “The EOD team has no equipment to check the package and instead used a K9 dog that sat on the item,” Ruiz said, adding that this prompted the EOD team to blow up the package.

Aug 13, 2021

The city police were sent into a tizzy after receiving an alert from Interpol about a bomb threat mail from Afghanistan that warned of bomb blasts at the Professional Linguistic Exam Board (PLAB) exam venues on Thursday. However, a thorough check at these places, most of them star hotels, proved the threat to be a hoax.

“In revenge for UK not doing enough for Afghanistan, bomb explosions will take place today at several plab 1 centres across the world. The world needs doctors at this time and we will ensure UK doesn’t get any. Try and stop us but u wont succeed. InshahAllah we will succeed (sic),” read the mail.

 

As exams were conducted in Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi; Dhaka in Bangladesh; and Colombo in Sri Lanka on Thursday, the countries concerned were alerted.

August 22, 2021

Workers at a delivery center made an odd discovery after becoming suspicious about the contents of a package. When they opened the box, they found a large, exotic snail living inside.  The discovery was made at a DPD center in England, Southwest News Service (SWNS) reports.

Workers had decided to inspect the package after it was discovered and had no delivery address on it. The box also had no return address printed on it.

“The workers found an unmarked box containing a giant African land snail amongst the boxes ready to be distributed for delivery across the country,” he explained. “When they realized there was this giant snail inside they contacted us for help. Luckily, the snail was doing okay and could be transferred straight to an exotics center for specialist care.”

August 28, 2021

Officers from the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-drug Department arrested three Chinese nationals and a Cambodian man for being involved in trafficking 5kg of illegal drugs from South Africa to Cambodia.

According to the department’s report, the clampdown began on August 19 in cooperation with customs officials at Phnom Penh International Airport and in the presence of Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Seng Hieng.

“Specialist officials checked the irregular package sent from Johannesburg in South Africa to Cambodia via DHL, finding ketamine liquid stored in 60 bottles of Aloe Gel, weighing 5kg”.

After inspecting the suspicious packages, the officers continued their investigation and found out that the intended recipients resided in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town.

They then cooperated with the provincial court, authorities, and police to raid a house in Poipet, arresting the four suspects, according to the report.

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