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UPS Investigation Reveals Mail Order Drug Trade

UPS Drug Bust: Mail Order Drug Trade No More

Especially around the holidays, the number of packages, letters, and cards that are sent in the mail is seemingly endless. Although people send everything from greeting cards to beauty products through the mail, not everything that the mail carrier delivers is harmless. The same goes for delivery services such as FedEx, DHL, United Parcel Service (UPS), and others. A UPS investigation in 2019 revealed a shocking discovery that shines a light on the real dangers and tactics of drug traffickers. Learn more with Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago.


What Is Drug Trafficking?

The term drug trafficking refers to the selling, transporting, and smuggling of drugs. These substances can be procured from various parts of the world, many of which are controlled by the United States government. When something is a controlled substance, it may fall into one of the 5 drug schedules, signaling the severity of risk associated with that substance.

Trafficking drugs is a serious offense and is considered both a federal and felony crime. This means that the consequences for being caught trafficking are severe, often holding more weight than being charged with drug possession.


Drug Trafficking Through UPS

In 2019, investigators discovered that a group of United Parcel Service employees had allegedly used their positions for money laundering and drug trafficking. The employees originated from the Tucson, Arizona, area and were thought to have used their geographic proximity to Mexico to import drugs from the country before spreading them to other parts of the United States.

The operation was thought to have originated with the illegal distribution of counterfeit vaping oils and grew to include higher-value drugs. These UPS drug traffickers were believed to have used standard cardboard boxes to transport thousands of pounds of illicit drugs. They covered up both the origin and destination of these packages to avoid suspicion and used WhatsApp to communicate.

After a ten-year investigation which included wiretapping, undercover cops, GPS tracking, and more, the authorities began to make arrests. At least four employees were charged with drug trafficking, and other people were arrested for other related charges in this UPS drug bust. It is believed that, not long after, additional arrests related to this operation were made. Some of the employees arrested included people from various departments and went from drivers to supervisors.

One such supervisor, Mario Barcelo, was suspected of being the leader of this complex operation. He worked at the Tucson distribution facility, and it is believed that he used his position of power to successfully bypass security measures and direct these illegal deliveries for at least ten years. Authorities fear that these systems can continue to be manipulated, and similar situations may appear in other parts of the country.


Drug Trafficking in the United States

As a drug rehab in Chicago, we know that this drug bust resulting from the UPS investigation is just another example of the great lengths that people will go to distribute illegal substances in the United States. Drug traffickers have used trains, cars, boats, planes, and now mail and parcel delivery trucks to transport their goods. From regular-looking boxes in a UPS truck to giant shipments on cargo boats, drug traffickers will use whatever means possible to distribute these drugs throughout the country.

With the rise of the internet, people have even begun to buy drugs through social media and use these outlets to coordinate the trafficking process. This highlights the speed at which these traffickers are adapting to the resources at their disposal. Only time will tell what other new drug trafficking techniques will take place in the future.


Our Illinois Drug Rehab Is Here to Help

At Banyan’s rehab in Chicago, we know that addiction is often the fuel to these drug trades. Because people become dependent on these substances, there is a high demand for them, enabling drug traffickers to make a large profit. Instead of buying these illegal drugs to satisfy your addiction, get help. Programs like our Illinois PHP (partial hospitalization program) can help you regain control of your life and become sober.

After enrollment at our facility and completing treatment, patients have the ability to take advantage of our alumni program. This program supplies a number of resources like aftercare plans, help to find sober living accommodations, and consistent check-ins with case managers and/or counselors. You do not have to face recovery from addiction by yourself.


To get started on your sobriety journey or to learn more about our Chicago addiction treatment center, call us immediately at 888-280-4763.



  1. NY Times - UPS Employees Are Arrested in Scheme to Ship Drugs and Cash


Related Reading

The Largest Drug Busts in History

Opioid Drug Trafficking in the U.S.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.