S.D.W.Va.: Govt established RS to detain def’s express mail package

The officers here had reasonable suspicion to detain defendant’s express mail parcel. United States v. Zirkle, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173863 (S.D. W.Va. Oct. 20, 2017):

In looking at the facts of this case, Inspector DiDomenico issued a “Mail Watch” after receiving a tip from other postal employees that suspicious packages were being sent from Michigan to Defendant’s address. When the parcel at issue arrived at the Huntington Post Office, Inspector DiDomenico went to the Post Office early in the morning and examined the parcel. Based upon his first-hand observations and his training and experience, Inspector DiDomenico identified several factors that were unusual or otherwise were consistent with the drug trade. He specifically noted: (1) the parcel was sent overnight by Priority Mail Express, which is more expensive, but allows for quick delivery and tracking for drug traffickers; (2) parcels sent by Priority Mail Express are most often sent from business-to-business, but this parcel was sent from person-to-person; (3) most of these parcels have typed labels, but this label was handwritten; and (4) the package originated from Michigan, which Inspector DiDomenico stated was a source state for many drugs coming into the area. After identifying these features, Inspector DiDomenico ran the addresses on the label through the CLEAR databank and found the return address was nonexistent. Although the Court does not give much weight to the fact the parcel was sent from Michigan and had a hand-written label, and only some weight to the fact the parcel was sent by Priority Mail Express person-to-person (rather than business-to-business), when these facts are combined with the initial tip from postal employees that an abnormally large volume of these types of packages were being delivered to the address, more than some businesses were receiving, and the fact the parcel had a fictitious return address, the Court finds from the totality of the circumstances that Inspector DiDomenico had sufficient articulable facts to establish reasonable suspicion for a brief delay to conduct further investigation.

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