Many believe this means they are safe to ship drugs like cannabis, cocaine, pills and more through the United States Postal Service. They feel safe doing this through the mail because they believe the Fourth Amendment protects them from having their packages searched.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
However, as the opioid crisis has grown increasingly severe, police and federal investigators have started focusing on drugs sent through the mail. Postal inspectors can screen packages to check for drugs like cannabis and other substances. Typically, a postal worker isn’t permitted to open a package to see what’s inside and if the contents contain anything illegal. To inspect a parcel, a postal worker or inspector must usually obtain a search warrant based on a reasonable suspicion that the package contains something illegal.
Two enterprising individuals recently learned their fate after being caught using the mail to ship kilograms of cocaine from Puerto Rico into Rhode Island. The operation’s leader was 41-year-old Arcadio Torres of North Smithfield, who pleaded guilty on June 30, 2022, to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. His co-defendant was Nelson Carvalho, 48, of Cranston, who copped to the same charge on August 1, 2022. They stood accused of importing 37 kilos of cocaine imported.
According to the DEA, Torres worked with family members and co-conspirators to have kilos of cocaine regularly shipped to addresses in Rhode Island. He tracked many of the shipments and watched as they were delivered and retrieved by others.
Carvalho provided co-conspirators with residential and business addresses in Rhode Island as destinations for U.S. Priority mail parcels containing approximately one kilogram of cocaine. He also discussed arrival dates and retrieval of the parcels, retrieved the packages from locations throughout Rhode Island and transported the cocaine to co-conspirators. He had at least 11 packages shipped to his place of employment at the Women and Infants Hospital, where he served as a mail courier. Carvalho retrieved the packages from the hospital mail and provided them to other co-conspirators.
U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy sentenced Torres to 96 months and Carvalho to 90 months in federal prison. Both sentences will be followed by four years of federal supervised release.
According to the press release:
“Co-conspirators George Mojica, 42, and Angel Delgado, 25, of Central Falls, previously admitted to a federal judge that they participated in the conspiracy and performed various functions to assist the DTO (drug trafficking organization). Mojica and Delgado were sentenced in May 2022 to serve seven years and five years in federal prison, respectively.”