Woman Orders Yoga Mat, Receives $400,000 in Drugs Instead

By Paul Fuhr 10/06/17

The woman reported that “pills were spilling out the sides of the package” that was supposed to contain her yoga mat.

the shipment of oxycodone pills that the woman received.
The shipment of oxycodone pills that the woman received. Photo via YouTube

A woman in Rock Hill, South Carolina expected the delivery of a yoga mat but received something else entirely: 20,000 oxycodone pills.

According to The Herald, a package of illegal narcotics worth $400,000 was delivered to her doorstep by her mailman. The surprise was quickly turned over to York County’s Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit. The woman reported that “pills were spilling out the sides of the package,” which prompted her to call the police, who then turned it over to drug agents. Marvin Brown, the drug unit’s commander, noted that each pill was worth $20 on the street. 

The package was mailed from Newport Beach, California, though the addressee claims she doesn’t have any idea who would have mailed it to her. An ABC7 Eyewitness News report said that police speculate the package was actually mailed to the woman’s previous address (a now-unoccupied apartment). Since the woman’s street was misspelled on the package, the postal service forwarded it to her current one.

Brown told the Daily News that drugs are typically shipped to “vacant apartments [and] homes where people have gone to work for the day.” Pick-up people wait outside the homes to collect the packages, he said. The Rock Hill Police Department has since taken the pills into evidence, while the drug team tries to trace the package to see who the sender and real recipients are. 

The incident, however, is shockingly common: Commander Brown told The Herald that in York County, police intercept illegal drug deliveries as often as once a week. Across the country, the same story holds true. “The Postal Service [is] being used to facilitate drug dealing,” former Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee in 2014. “It is shocking to see the amount of drugs that get pumped into communities all around this country through our mail system, and we have to deal with that.”

While some point their finger at the U.S. Postal Service for enabling drug activity, it’s virtually impossible to search and scan every package the USPS handles. In fact, this past summer, the USPS announced that it would be cutting 12,000 jobs nationwide—a clear signal to dealers that there will be even fewer people inspecting their packages. Ironically, drug dealers may have chosen their delivery method after reading the Postal Service’s own website, where it spells out that “first class letters and parcels are protected against search and seizure.” 

Even though the USPS can’t inspect every single package, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to take action. Statistics show that postal inspectors annually seize tens of thousands of pounds of drugs each year, with those street values reaching well into the millions.

An NBC4 Washington story, however, claims these seizures are a “fraction” of the drug deals conducted online. And even though distributing drugs through the mail is a federal crime (since packages cross state lines), it’s the main way that dealers get drugs from point A to point Z. “[Dealers] view this as safer,” an attorney told NBC4. “They think they’re less likely to be caught because they don’t actually have the (drugs) on them.” 

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.