FOX23 Investigates: Tons of marijuana found through U.S. mail system
While medical marijuana is legal in Oklahoma, recreational marijuana is still off limits.
Though some nearby states have legalized the drug, federal law prohibits sending marijuana through the mail system.
Despite this, postal inspectors say they’ve seen tons of marijuana in the mail, which is a federal offense.
“Often, we’ll get calls from our carriers or a postmaster at a post office that gets a package that they suspect is narcotics,” said Rick Johnsten with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
A search warrant is needed to open the package, which is usually tipped off by a notable smell, a lot of packing tape, and with an origin address from a state with lax drug laws.
Ron Stucker with the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation spoke about the process.
“Drug traffickers are running a business, like a legitimate business, and they have to figure out how to get their product from point A to point B,” said Stucker.
FOX23 Investigative Reporter Janna Clark obtained records showing that postal inspectors found more than 54 tons of marijuana inside mailed packages between 2019 and 2021.
Nearly 1.5 tons was intercepted, addressed to Oklahoma.
While the practice is becoming more common, it’s not likely that those mailing the drug will be prosecuted.
Criminal defense attorney Mark O’Mara says people who have packages of marijuana seized are rarely prosecuted unless they are also dealing in harder drugs, like cocaine and heroin.
Because of this, inspectors focus on cases like Devonne Walker. Investigators say Walker and his co-conspirators ran a large scale drug operation between central Florida and Arizona.
Investigators tied 100 pounds of marijuana to Walker, along with larger shipments of meth, cocaine, and heroin. He’s now serving 25 years in federal prison.
“We’re looking to prevent any damage being done or harming society with these dangerous drugs,” said Johnsten. “So, we get as many as we can as often as we can off the street. That’s our main priority.”
More than two dozen states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, making it easier to get locally.
“As long as it’s illegal and we’re told that it’s illegal, we’ll continue to do our jobs to intercept it. Until those laws change, that’s what we’ll continue to do,” said Johnsten.
©2022 Imagicomm Tulsa, Inc.