How Illegal Drugs End Up in The United States

package being received

They’re here to help. The United Parcel Service, also known as UPS, has earned a name for its ability to get you what you need when you need it. Nowadays, however, it’s not just delivering Grandma’s care packages or orders from Amazon; the service will get you a package of illicit drugs delivered wherever you ask–the side of a highway, in a back alley, or your front porch.

The DEA won’t stand for it anymore. In its aggressive fight against drug diversion, a federal probe has been initiated, and UPS admitted its involvement and agreed to pay a $40 million settlement.

Shady Dealings

Since 2003, UPS has known from its employees that Internet pharmacies were using its services to ship medicines being distributed illegally, without prescriptions. Yet they did not make any motion to close these shipping accounts, according to the Justice Department. Drivers were even complying with instructions to drop the packages in suspicious locations such as the side of a highway or parking lots.

Regardless of employees’ level of involvement, it is clear that UPS did not conduct due diligence. Minimally, they were lacking in proper screening procedures, as they should have known whether or not the businesses were shipping pharmaceuticals illegally. For example, United Care Pharmacy became a client of UPS in September of 2005. That same month, authorities sent them a list of illegal pharmacies, and United Care was on their list. UPS continued to service the business and only removed the pharmacy from its list after the senior executives of the pharmacy were arrested two years later.

Is Justice Served

UPS admitted its involvement and signed a non-prosecution agreement with the United States. For two years, UPS will be required to comply with the DEA and follow a program to prevent illegal Internet pharmacies from using its shipping services.

On the bright side, UPS has been in compliance with an investigation by authorities since 2007. FedEx Corporation is facing a similar probe and has been responding to grand jury subpoenas, though they are confident that they have not violated federal law.

How This May Be Affecting You

While the settlement with UPS is heartening, it brings to light the fact that drug diversion is more common than one might think. In fact, an increasing number of teens are ordering prescription drugs online and having them delivered to friends’ homes or other locations. Illicit use of pharmaceuticals is rising in popularity among teens. They crush them in order to be smoked or injected. Opioids like OxyContin and Percocet act like heroin, causing euphoria and drowning out pain. Psychostimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are used like other amphetamines. They are shared at parties and teens ride the high at school.

Another unexpected package may include synthetic drugs, new substances with mind-altering effects. Drugs like bath salts and Spice can be ordered online and will show up at the front door.

Be wary of unknown packages showing up at your front door, and do not be afraid to act nosy for the sake of your child.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.