An outgoing parcel investigation should be conducted to verify sender information such as name, address, and telephone number.
Probable cause necessary to obtain a search warrant for the parcel is developed in this way.
It may be necessary for investigators to verify location by driving by the address.
A sender address may not exist or may be part of a large apartment complex with no apartment number.
The sender name must be verified, and typically is a common name or does not exist as it relates to a particular address and telephone number.
At this time, investigators should notify the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction the parcel is being sent to, in order to discuss the receiver information in their jurisdiction.
Outgoing parcels are typically from source cities or states or from an area from which currency may be sent to purchase drugs.
The receiver law enforcement agency should conduct an investigation on the name and address.
Typically, the name of the receiver is fictitious or is a variation of the true name of the receiver.
The address is generally correct, because the sender wants the package to be delivered.
However, the location may be a “drop” location or a residence where the receiver may be waiting for the parcel to be delivered.
There may be information from the other law enforcement regarding the location to which the parcel is addressed. Intelligence information or other criminal investigations may reveal the location to be a known drug house.
With a package that is to be delivered from business to business or individual to business, the law enforcement agency should conduct a thorough investigation as to ownership and management of that location.
There have been cases where, for example, a clerk at a convenience food store has used that location to receive narcotics via a parcel.
The package was addressed to the convenience store, and the employee was awaiting delivery of the parcel.
If law enforcement agencies determine that the information on the sender side is fictitious, coupled with the canine alert on the parcel, probable cause would exist to obtain a search warrant.
The local jurisdiction the parcel is located in would prepare a search warrant and have a magistrate or judge sign it for purposes of opening the suspected parcel.
Before removing the parcel for the purpose of obtaining a search warrant, a parcel facility should be provided with a receipt for the item.
The receipt should include the facility name, location, package type, and the date and time that the parcel was taken into custody, along with a police case number.
There should be a description of the parcel or parcels.
The receipt should be signed by the person releasing the property and by the investigator.
A copy of this property receipt form should be provided to the facility for their records and also be kept as part of the case file.
Parcels from commercial parcel services can be tracked via the Internet or by telephone.
With a tracking number, a package can be tracked to its destination and where it is currently located.
The package may leave a location to go to a hub area, and be distributed from that location.
Management or loss prevention personnel of the facility should be asked to make a computer entry in their system so that if the drug trafficker checks the parcel by tracking number, it is not reflected that the parcel was taken into police custody.
This should be discussed, and the tracking may reflect that there was some sort of sorting problem and that the parcel is at a particular location.
This is extremely important with overnight parcels, as time is critical in the delivery of the parcel, which makes it very difficult to conduct a controlled delivery in a timely fashion.
Once probable cause is developed and a search warrant is obtained and signed, the parcel may be opened for examination by the law enforcement agency.
It should be opened carefully so as to not damage the parcel in its original state.
Once the interior of the parcel has been examined for the verification of narcotics, the investigators may take a sample of the contents before delivery in case the parcel is destroyed during the controlled delivery.
The parcel should be closed and placed in another parcel, initialed, and dated.
It can then be sent through the parcel system to the investigators conducting the controlled delivery in the destination jurisdiction.
A copy of the search warrant that was executed on the parcel should be made available to the receiving agency.
This will assist in preparing an anticipatory search warrant in preparation for the controlled delivery of the parcel to a residence or business.
All investigative documents should be forwarded to the agency as well.
A police agency that has a parcel investigative group in another jurisdiction may contact your agency to ask if you would like to receive a package that has been identified with narcotics.
The same steps are taken in preparing for your agency to conduct a controlled delivery in your jurisdiction.
Typically, the other law enforcement agency will conduct a thorough investigation and develop probable cause to obtain a search warrant to open the suspected parcel.
They may take a sample of the narcotics and then send the parcel with all of the documentation to your agency.
Once the incoming parcel is taken into custody at your end, investigators should conduct as thorough an investigation as possible of the individuals who will be taking delivery of the parcel.
Once the agency has taken custody of an incoming parcel from another jurisdiction, all documentation should be reviewed including the search warrant and other pertinent information.
The parcel group should conduct an investigation including drive-bys of receiver locations to see if there is anyone at the location who can be identified.
Information that can be verified from vehicle tag information, residence information, and any other source of information should be explored.
Once all of the information has been developed, a controlled delivery is an investigative option.
A controlled delivery is delivery of a parcel, package, or envelope containing narcotics under controlled circumstances that has been sent either via a commercial private parcel company or the U.S. Postal system.
The actual physical delivery is typically made by a police officer in an undercover capacity, or by the U.S. Postal Inspector if the parcel is U.S. Mail. Under these controlled circumstances, the objective is to have a law enforcement officer make the delivery of the parcel to the suspect, who will either sign for or take custody of the parcel. The undercover agent will attempt to solicit any statements in which the suspect may admit knowledge of the parcel delivery. The key to any parcel investigation is for law enforcement to prove that the subject had knowledge of the parcel’s contents. This is critical to the prosecution of the suspect in a parcel investigation. It is virtually impossible to litigate a criminal case without proving knowledge of contents.
The difficulty with controlled deliveries is timeliness. There is limited investigative time if the parcel is sent overnight or express mail.
Many traffickers will instruct associates not to accept parcels if they are late.
This is a difficult proposition for law enforcement.
An officer may attempt to deliver a suspect package but the person will not accept it, because he knows that commercial parcel companies guarantee delivery by a certain time.
Once a decision has been made to conduct a controlled delivery of a parcel, most states allow an anticipatory search warrant to be drafted.
An anticipatory search warrant is prepared in anticipation of a controlled delivery of a parcel to a premises.
Probable cause, which led the law enforcement agency to the discovery of the parcel, should be included and articulated in the anticipatory search warrant.
All fictitious information, type of drugs, examinations, and all other pertinent information should be included in the anticipatory search warrant.
In some jurisdictions, a judge or magistrate will sign the anticipatory search warrant before the controlled delivery of a parcel.
In other jurisdictions, the parcel must be delivered and be in the premises before the anticipatory search warrant is signed.
In that case, the investigator will be in the presence of a judge and as soon as he is advised that the parcel is in the location, the anticipatory search warrant is signed by the judge.
In some jurisdictions, with an anticipatory search warrant, once the parcel that was delivered during the controlled delivery is located, the search must be terminated.
In other jurisdictions, investigators may be allowed to include other items as part of the search warrant such as documents related to the parcel activity.
This must be discussed with the U.S. Attorney’s office, or state or district attorney’s office in the particular jurisdiction.
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