Police: Detailed Inspection of suspicious items

Law enforcement officials study the tactics drug dealers use to ship the proceeds from marijuana sales into Oregon and adapt their interdiction tactics to match them.

Court affidavits filed in federal civil forfeiture cases show that the eyes of postal inspectors and the noses of drug-detection dogs are agents' first line of defense.

Affidavits from postal inspectors show that they regularly scan overnight packages looking for some of the tell-tale packaging tactics dealers use.

Court affidavits show that drug dogs, such as Medford Police Department's Kilo, are regularly dispatched to the FedEx depot at the Medford airport to sniff incoming and outgoing packages.

When suspect packages are detected, investigators can seek a search warrant to open them and inspect them for cash. Sometimes investigators will deliver a package to the recipient and ask him or her to open it in their presence, federal affidavits show.

When investigators find large sums of cash they believe to be tied to the drug trade, they amass as much evidence of alleged deception by the shipper and addressee as possible.

In affidavits, police detail ways the money appears to have been disguised to avoid drug-dog detection. Police check return addresses and telephone numbers for fake entries. They do criminal background checks on the addressees, and often check whether the addressee is a medical-marijuana cardholder, affidavits show.

When addressees are identified, agents routinely ask them to explain how they got the money. Agents then attempt to verify the explanation. If the story doesn't add up, agents spell out the suspected lies in affidavits and note when claimants lack legitimate means to have large amounts of cash coming their way.

In some cases, however, it appears that cash is seized without agents even speaking to the addressees to get their side of the story. When agents seized a package in January that contained $17,980 from an address in New York sent to Donna Dickson in Grants Pass, agents filed a forfeiture claim in U.S. District Court without any mention of having interviewed Dickson.

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