Sixteen U.S. Postal Service workers from across the Atlanta area are headed to federal prison after being found guilty of accepting bribes from drug dealers to drop off parcels of cocaine while working their routes. The convictions were announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Georgia on Tuesday.
Sentences handed down for the disgraced federal employees ranged from three to nine years, and all were ordered to pay restitution in amounts ranging from $1,450 to $10,500.
What are the details?
Authorities launched an undercover investigation after federal agents discovered in 2015 that drug traffickers were bribing postal workers to deliver drugs during the course of their regular routes. The drug dealers assumed that postal workers would be less likely to get caught by law enforcement, because of the official nature of their federal jobs.
Using a "confidential source" posing as a drug trafficker, the FBI was able to record the defendants all choosing to deliver cocaine rather than marijuana (because they could charge more), negotiating the price of the bribes they would accept, and offering to intercept packages on multiple occasions over a period of time.
The workers — who range in age from 26 to 64 — accepted bribes for as low as $250 to make the deliveries.
What did the authorities say about it?
"U.S. Postal Service workers are typically valuable members of the community, entrusted to deliver the mail every day to our homes," U.S. Attorney Byung Pak said in a statement. "This important operation identified and prosecuted 16 corrupt individuals who chose to abuse that trust and instead used their positions to bring what they thought were large amounts of dangerous drugs into those same communities for a quick payoff."
Imari Niles, special agent in charge at the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Capital Metro Area Field Office, said,"Postal employees are paid to deliver mail, not drugs. The vast majority of the Postal Service's 600,000 employees are hard-working, trustworthy individuals."
DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston added, "Drug trafficking, in itself, is an inherently dangerous crime. When perpetrated by those in positions of public trust, citizen safety is severely compromised."