Two United States Postal Service employees who have been accused of removing and stealing cannabis from packages at an Oklahoma processing and distribution center pleaded guilty to drug theft.
According to police records, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General got tips in July last year about employees taking cannabis from parcels at the sorting center in Tulsa. The hotline tip named Derek Miller – nicknamed “Chuck the Sniffer” – and Laura Mae Campbell as the culprits. Campbell is a supervisor at the Tulsa processing and distribution center.
Following the tip, USPS-OIG agents started to conduct surveillance in August and reviewed footages of Miller and Campbell while the two were at work. The footages showed Miller removing packages from the mail stream and then taking these packages to Campbell’s office.
According to Derek Miller in his plea agreement, he was searching parcels mailed from the west coast for high-grade cannabis that he could remove and steal.
In September, authorities raided Miller’s and Campbell’s homes. Authorities had seized more than 60 pounds of weed from Miller’s residence. Meanwhile, they obtained over 10 pounds of cannabis from Campbell’s home, along with 152 hydrocodone pills and 304 tablets of ecstasy.
Just earlier this month, the 47-year-old Campbell pleaded guilty to conspiracy, nearly a month after Miller had admitted to stealing drugs from rifled packages. Miller confessed that he had been stealing since 2015.
Campbell pleaded guilty under a plea bargain and will be sentenced in May. She admitted to acting as Miller’s lookout yet denied opening any of the packages brought to her office.
A grand jury indicted her last November on one count of drug conspiracy as well as one count of conspiracy. However, a superceding indictment in December named her on additional 13 counts of using a communication device in order to send text messages to her co-workers with regard to the conspiracy.
Under her plea bargain agreement, Campbell will be facing eight to 14 months in prison.
Miller, on the other hand, will be sentenced on April 9.
According to Miller in his plea agreement, he was searching parcels mailed from the west coast for high-grade cannabis that he could remove and steal. He explained that because it was difficult for him to execute his plan in secret, he went to Campbell for help. In exchange for her assistance, he promised her a cut of the proceeds from the cannabis he found and removed from the packages.
Authorities also arrested David Michael Watters, Campbell’s husband. As indicated in online records, he is facing charges in state court.
In Oklahoma, cannabis is illegal, whether for medical and recreational purposes. In fact, the state is known to have some of the strictest cannabis laws in the country. However, while medical cannabis is still prohibited here, limited clinical trials for the medical use of CBD oil have been legalized since April 2014.
With the legalization of medical cannabis in most states, and the legalization of recreational cannabis in some, it is not uncommon for the drug to land in the mail and for it to be shipped from one state to another.
Total USPS cannabis seizures across the country have risen steadily over 2015 and 2016.
In Colorado alone, federal postal inspectors have seized more packages with cannabis in 2017 than the years before. USPS workers in the state discovered 934 packages of cannabis, which is 16 percent more than the amount they found the previous year.
According to Dana Carter, Inspector in Charge of the USPS-Denver Division, U.S. Postal Inspectors continue to target persons using the postal service as a means of distributing controlled substances.
It also seems that the numbers follow the same trend nationwide. Total USPS cannabis seizures across the country have risen steadily over 2015 and 2016. In fact, according to the U.S. News and World Report, federal officials have recovered over 9,000 cannabis shipments within this period.