A Year in Mail Threats – 2018


2018 was a High-Water Mark for Nationally Publicized Dangerous Mail Security Incidents

And these high profile incidents are the tip of the iceberg. For every mail threat that makes the news, most others are handled discretely without national press coverage.

2018: Year in Review

We started the year with continuing reports of deadly Fentanyl flowing into the U.S. mail system as the “delivery method of choice” for ordering drugs off the dark web and the internet.

JANUARY 2018: The danger of opioids in the U.S. Mail takes center stage as reports highlight the staggering scope of this issue.

U.S. Postal Service unwittingly smuggles Chinese opioids to American addicts

And now we are beginning to understand just how dangerous this drug can be in the mail system.  Killer Opioid Fentanyl Could Be a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Shockingly, it would take only 118 pounds of Fentanyl to kill 25 million people.

FEBRUARY 2018: A white powder letter was mailed to Donald Trump Jr, and opened by his wife Vanessa who was hospitalized as a precautionary measure.

Vanessa Trump taken to hospital as precaution after white powder sent to her home

Eric Trump recently reported that white powder has been mailed to every member of President Trump’s family.

FEBRUARY 2018: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry targeted in white powder threat including racist hate letter.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in anthrax terror scare

FEBRUARY 2018: A U.S. military base building near the Pentagon was evacuated and over a dozen people, including Marines, fell ill after a white powder letter was opened.

Marines Hospitalized at Joint Base Myer After Opening Letter With Unknown Substance – NBC4 News

MARCH 2018: For almost three weeks, the Austin area was terrorized by the Austin Mail Bomber incidents killing two people and injuring five. This was no hoax, and all mail and package delivery methods were threatened.

Police: Austin bomber left 25-minute confession video on phone

MARCH 2018:  Multiple government facilities in the Washington D.C. area received suspicious packages reported to contain possibly explosive materials.

D.C.-Area Military Sites Sent Suspicious Packages That Included ‘Disturbing’ Letters

OCTOBER 2018: Ricin letters sent to President Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis, chief of naval operations Adm. John Richardson, FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Utah man charged for sending toxic letters to Trump, other admin officials

OCTOBER 2018: 13 IED’s – Improvised Explosives Devices – were sent through the United States Postal Services to 16 high ranking officials including President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others. CNN was also targeted.

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and CNN Offices Are Sent Pipe Bombs

What Does This Mean for My Business?

Mail threats are a low-cost, accessible form of terrorism. For the price of a stamp, your organization is at risk for disruption or real harm. If anything, this year demonstrates that although many threats are costly and harrowing hoaxes, they also prove deadly.

The majority of threats are actually not in the news every day. They are detected by mail screening experts with a concern for privacy and discretion.

Basic steps for Mailroom Safety include:

1. Provide training
2. Put a plan in writing
2. Install correct sensor equipment
3. Train employees
4. Run practice drills

If this is not possible, consider outsourcing mail screening to a third party or sending mail to a third party screening facility.

As always, I appreciate your comments.