Mail Security Alert, Nov 2021: Drugs, Governments & Vaccine Mandate Impact

Mail Security Alert 2021-11: November.

Mail security threats reported in November, 2021 continued recent patterns of drugs and illicit items in the mail, highlighting the need for screening programs in government facilities.

Lawmakers worldwide received increased mail threats in response to COVID vaccination mandates.

As companies adopt and implement vaccination mandates, and employee termination increases, companies are opening themselves up to the insider threat.

Fired employees, many of which have been working remotely, will be required to return the organizational property like laptops and work phones increasing the opportunity for threats.

Already frustrated, with insider knowledge, and provided the opportunity organizations should expect the possibility of anger as motivation and the mail as a medium to exact revenge.

Internationally, Asia reported more mail security threats than most in November. Biological materials, dangerous powders, and hoax bombs all surged this month.

With multiple successful deliveries to the targets, security teams can expect these incidents numbers to repeat themselves in the future.

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United States Mail Security Incidents

The overwhelming majority of U.S. mail threats reported in November, 2021 involved drugs and illegal trafficking, a notable increase over recent months.

The uptick in drug-related mail security incidents brings with it corresponding jump in associated federal charges.

Reported white powder mail threats fell this month, though security teams can expect them to return with the new year as mandatory employee vaccinations become more common.

The few white powder incidents reported in November were aimed at less-common targets, not those typically intended to shut down large organizations.

Prisons and jails continue seeing an increase in captured drugs, most likely tied to the increase in mail digitization.

As digital scans replace paper in more and more prisons’ personal mail streams, correctional mail and security staff can focus on a smaller group of packages, thereby improving their detection rates.

Nov 3, 2021 — Marysville, WA

The envelope arrived on Sunday at the home of School Board Director Keira Atchley’s mother, Christy Wilman. The letter, which had no return address and had begun leaking a purple substance, alerted Wilman who immediately called her daughter about it. With Atchley’s permission, she opened it to find the unidentified powder, as well as a Christmas card, which read in all caps, “Your hate is consuming you.”

“When she opened it, she said her nose was burning, and it was all over her. It was all over her sweatshirt and hands and arms and face,” Atchley told the Lynnwood Times. “I was angry and worried that my mom wasn’t going to be okay.”

The powdered substance within the envelope has not yet been identified, but Atchley said her mother is doing fine, though still unable to wash the purple away completely.

This is the second anonymous threat Atchley has received after another card appeared in the mail back in August. The first card, which pictured a smiling Donald Trump, was stamped on the back with the black raised fist logo, now often associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. “It said something like, ‘He’s smiling in this card because he has you fleeced,’” Atchley said.

Nov 23, 2021 — Cincinnati, OH

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Cincinnati found methamphetamine concealed in baby diapers. CBP officials said the shipment had over four pounds of meth within the diapers that were en route from Texas to a private residence in Australia on Nov. 11.

According to a tweet from Chicago CBP, Narcotic Detection Dog Betty alerted officers of the suspicious package. The diapers appeared to be firm and unusually heavy, officials said.

Nov 1, 2021 — Youngstown, OH

An affidavit accompanying the complaint said authorities Oct. 25 flagged a suspicious package from Nogales, Ariz., to an address on Allerton Court in Youngstown. Investigators got a search warrant and found 1070 grams of fentanyl inside a toy fire engine and toy doll that were inside the package, the affidavit said.

Investigators replaced the fentanyl and sealed up the package with a GPS inside and delivered it Thursday, the affidavit said. Authorities watched as the parcel was delivered, Daniels took it inside, later took it to a garage on the property and a couple of hours later Daniels got in a vehicle that drove away.

Nov 2, 2021 — Elgin, IL

An investigation by Kane County Sheriff’s Office detectives and United States postal inspectors has uncovered what authorities say is a mail-in drug trafficking operation. According to a Kane County Sheriff’s Office news release, sheriff’s detectives and postal inspectors conducted an Oct. 28 investigation into narcotics being trafficked through the mail.

Law enforcers determined during the investigation that Dante Howse, 28, of Hoffman Estates had taken possession of a suspicious package. Detectives stopped Howse’s vehicle in the area of Dundee Avenue and Seneca Avenue in Elgin. During the course of the stop, probable cause was gained, and a search of the vehicle yielded 2 pounds of M-30 OxyContin pills and more than a kilogram of AD-30 “Adderall” pills, the news release said.

Nov 19, 2021 — Exton, PA

Between February and August, mail room staff at the jail intercepted eight packages containing an alleged controlled substance, according to the affidavits. One of these was mailed by Rees to Sanchez and contained a card, the affidavits say. The items were field tested and allegedly tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids.

The seven other intercepted parcels also field tested positive for synthetic cannabinoids and suboxone, a narcotic used to treat opioid addiction, according to the affidavits. These parcels were also allegedly linked to Rees’ phone number, email and signature, and were sent to various inmates at the jail.

The affidavit for Sanchez indicates he allegedly coordinated all the packages being delivered to the jail.

Nov 4, 2021 — Las Vegas, NV

Cara Pascucci is accused of shipping four pounds of meth from Nevada, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday, and the package was intercepted Oct. 25 by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service after it arrived in New York state.

Once a federal judge signed off on a search warrant for the suspicious package’s contents, court documents say, investigators found the four pounds methamphetamine along with 12 additional ounces of a substance that later tested positive for meth. About six ounces of marijuana products with a receipt in Pascucci’s name were also found in the package, court documents say.

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International Mail Security Incidents

International threats overwhelmingly targeted courts and lawmakers in Asia and Australia.

Hong Kong received the bulk of the mail threats, due to the courts beginning to punish protesters with jail time.

These threats, aimed at judges, contained caustic soda and rotten meat and are expected to increase as more protesters have court dates in the upcoming weeks.

Drug incidents fell this month overseas overall however there was one major highlight:

An Indian Amazon facility and website was used to traffic marijuana with high-level employees named by the local police.

Nov 21, 2021 — India

Indian police said on Saturday they had charged senior executives of Amazon.com’s local unit under narcotics laws in a case of alleged marijuana smuggling via the online retailer.

Police in the central Madhya Pradesh state arrested two men with 20kg of marijuana on November 14 and found they were using the Amazon India website to order and further smuggle the substance in the guise of stevia leaves, a natural sweetener, to other Indian states.

State police said in a statement that executive directors of Amazon India were being named as accused under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act due to differences in answers in documents provided by the company in response to police questions and facts unearthed by discussion.

Nov 12, 2021 — Hong Kong

Security staff evacuated eight people from a Hong Kong court building on Thursday after a threatening letter containing a highly corrosive substance was sent to a judge who had recently jailed five university students for their roles in a major clash during the 2019 anti-government protests.

The bomb squad was sent to examine the powered substance and found there was “no danger” of an explosion. The powder, which was later confirmed to be about two grams of caustic soda, was wrapped in aluminium foil. A foul language curse written on a piece of paper was sent with it.

Nov 23, 2021 — Hong Kong

Two suspicious letters allegedly containing substances with meat-like texture were sent to law courts in Admiralty and Wan Chai on Tuesday afternoon, the third such incident reported in November.

It was understood that the two letters were addressed to Deputy Judge of the Court of First Instance Johnny Chan Jong-herng and District Judge Clement Lee Hing-nin, both of whom had handled cases related to social unrest. Sources added that a substance with a meat-like texture was found within the letters. Officers have taken the substance out for further examination.

A number of staff members evacuated the buildings upon receiving the letters. Police and officers from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau were mobilized to the scene after they received the report.

Nov 14, 2021 — India

An e-rikshaw driver identified as Umar Daraz alias Pappu has been detained by the Jaipur Police in connection to a case of sending a dummy bomb to a cloth merchant in the state capital. As per reports, a letter was attached to the package demanding a ransom of Rs. 10 lakh. The driver has alleged that a woman wearing a burqa had commissioned him to deliver the package to the cloth merchant.

The letter that came with the dummy bomb not only had the ransom demand of Rs. 10 lakh but also had some details about the merchant that only an acquaintance could know. The letter stated that Gupta had a lot of money, and if he did not pay the ransom, they would blow him up with a bomb. The letter further stated that he would have to face the consequences if he informed the Police.

Nov 16, 2021 — Hong Kong

Letters containing highly corrosive substances were delivered to two Hong Kong courts on Tuesday, prompting the deployment of bomb disposal officers and sparking the second round of evacuations in less than a week related to judicial intimidation.

One letter sent to Sha Tin Court was addressed to Magistrate Pang Leung-ting, while the other, sent to West Kowloon Court, was intended for Deputy Judge Kathie Cheung Kit-yee, who was also the target of a similar delivery last week, according to a police source.

The source said Tuesday’s letters were found to contain lye, also known as caustic soda or sodium hydroxide, a substance capable of causing chemical burns. It is used in a variety of manufacturing processes. The highly corrosive chemical was also sent to Cheung last Thursday, prompting an evacuation.

Nov 11, 2021 — India

Police are questioning Arindam Sen — a doctor attached to KPC hospital — to find out why he sent threat letters to government officials, including one to Calcutta University vice-chancellor Sonali Chakravarti Banerjee that said her husband would be killed.

The letters Sen had sent included one to the head of the pharmacology department, where he works as an assistant professor.

Sen recently lost his mother and had been staying alone in his Amherst Street home in north Kolkata, the police said. “We have learned from his colleagues and neighbours that he is fighting a divorce suit with his second wife. His father died long ago and his mother passed away recently. Since then, he had been staying alone. He has very few relatives,” said an officer.

“Seven letters were sent on October 25 from a Sarat Bose Road post office and Sen was connected to all the senders or recipients in some way. In some, he used his original name to undersign,” said the officer.

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