Australia Post Unable to Detect Drugs or Explosives in Mail

In news that may be reassuring to some, Australia Post claims they can’t legally detect drugs in the mail and even if they could – they lack the technology to do so.

ABC News filed a Freedom of Information request to gather details on investigations of illegal narcotics being sent through the mail. For those who are unaware, Australia Post is the Australian-Government-owned postal service provider. The postal service, in the response letter to ABC News, shed some light on the Australian government’s ability to detect both drugs and explosives being shipped in or out of the country.

Australia Post is required by law to report the suspected presence of illegal goods in packages, but they are unequipped to accurately determine whether or not a package contains illegal goods. This is in stark contrast with other the postal services in other countries, such as USPS, the postal service of the United States. USPS has the U.S. Postal Inspection Service that does exactly what the department title implies: inspects packages. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is responsible for at least 1,000 arrests a year related to sending and receiving illegal goods through the mail.

The letter also states that the postal service does not have “sniffer dogs, X-ray machines, or explosive trace detectors.” Again, in contrast to the USPS, this renders Australia Post almost useless when it comes to identifying suspicious packages. Many countries employ contraband sniffing dogs that hit on explosives and types of narcotics, X-rays for patterns, and X-rays for detail on already suspicious packages.


Australia Post can’t open mail either, they claim. This isn’t too uncommon in-and-of itself; USPS can’t open packages without a warrant. That’s what they’ll have you believe, at least.

The under-equipped postal service doesn’t lack the funds to utilize the technology needed; instead, they would rather the legal authority on this matter “properly sit with law enforcement agencies.”

Excerpt of letter below:

“Australia Post has an obligation to inform relevant authorities should it suspect the presence of illegal goods in mail items, but lacks the technology or equipment to detect [such goods]. Australia Post does not have, for example, sniffer dogs, X-ray machines or explosive trace detectors. Australia Post lacks legal authority to open mail. Australia Post does not seek this legal authority which, in Australia Post’s view, properly sits with law enforcement agencies.” the statement said.

In a separate Freedom of Information request, ABC News discovered that over 12,844 packages of illegal drugs were mailed to Australia in 2015. Most of the parcels contained marijuana, but interestingly 3,000 shipments of ecstasy were seized. That’s 300,000 E pills.

A 2016 survey by the Global Drug Survey shows us that, out of 100,000 respondents, 9.3% had purchased drugs online. 45 kilos of drugs had been seized, worldwide, in the mail during 2015. And to no surprise, Australia was not on the list of countries who had intercepted the most drugs in the mail.

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