The United States Postal Inspection Service
) is the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...
. Its jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...
is defined as "crimes that may adversely affect or fraudulently use the U.S. Mail, the postal system or postal employees."
An agency with approximately 4,000 employees, 1,200 criminal investigators, an armed uniformed division with 1,000 personnel, forensic laboratories and a communications system, and with 1,000 technical and administrative support personnel, the USPIS leads and assists in numerous joint federal and state investigations.
The Postal Inspection Service has the oldest origins of any federal law enforcement agency in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
. It traces its roots back to 1772, when colonial Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...
first appointed a "surveyor" to regulate and audit the mails. Thus, the Service's origins—in part—predate the Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...
, and therefore the United States itself. As Franklin was Postmaster under the Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....
and was George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...
's first Postmaster, his system continued.
In 1801, the title of "surveyor" was changed to Special Agent
. In 1830, the Special Agents were organized into the Office of Instructions and Mail Depredations
. The Postal Inspection Service was the first federal law enforcement agency to use the title Special Agent
Special agent is usually the title for a detective or investigator for a state, county, municipal, federal or tribal government. An agent is a worker for any federal agency, and a secret agent is one who works for an intelligence agency....
for its officers. Congress changed this title to Inspector
For some time, one of their primary duties was the enforcement of obscenity prohibitions under the Comstock Act.
Jurisdiction and activities
USPIS was at one time the only investigative agency of the Postal Service; however, many of its internal oversight duties were transferred to the USPS Office of Inspector General
The United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service was created by federal statute in 1996, assuming the duties previously carried out by the United State Postal Inspection Service...
. These duties tended to be in the internal fraud, waste and abuse categories.
The OIG primarily took over the Postal Inspection Service's audit function, as well as fraud (against the USPS) waste and abuse.
The USPIS is primarily an investigative agency employing plain-clothes federal criminal investigators entitled "Postal Inspectors" whose primary mission is "to protect the U.S. Postal Service, its employees and its customers from criminal attack, and protect the nation's mail system from criminal misuse". It has responsibility for over 700,000 Postal Service employees and billions of pieces of mail transported through air, land, rail and sea world wide a year.
Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, the USPIS has also investigated several cases where ricin
Ricin , from the castor oil plant Ricinus communis, is a highly toxic, naturally occurring protein. A dose as small as a few grains of salt can kill an adult. The LD50 of ricin is around 22 micrograms per kilogram Ricin , from the castor oil plant Ricinus communis, is a highly toxic, naturally...
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals...
and other toxic substances were sent through the mail. Although the USPIS has a wide jurisdiction, USPIS investigations can be categorized into these seven types of investigative teams and functions:
- Fraud: These types of investigation involve crimes that use the mails to facilitate fraud against consumers, business and government. Federal statutes that surround these types of investigations include, mail fraud, and other criminal statutes when they are tied to the mails such as bank fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud, wire fraud, and Internet/computer fraud. Mail fraud is a statute that is used in prosecuting many white collar crimes, this would include, Ponzi scheme
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money or the money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned by the individual or organization running the operation...
s, 419 frauds, and other white collar crimes where the mail was used to facilitate the fraud. In the 1960s and '70s, inspectors under regional chief postal inspectors such as Martin McGee, known as "Mr. Mail Fraud," exposed and prosecuted numerous swindles involving land sales, phony advertising practices, insurance ripoffs and fraudulent charitable organizations using mail fraud charges Mail fraud http://www.scribd.com/doc/26863551/MARTIN-J-MCGEE-PIONEER-IN-MAIL-FRAUD-INVESTIGATION. McGee is credited with assisting in the conviction of former Illinois Governor Kerner on mail fraud charges http://books.google.com/books?id=G0SmzIHuffUC&pg=PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=%22martin+Mcgee%22+postal&source=bl&ots=RdQNEo86hT&sig=NHVPxnO9hCe_qxSv4BVFElVbHq0&hl=en&ei=-Yh3S4SAD4-mngfBm7SvCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CA8Q6AEwBDgU#v=onepage&q=%22martin%20Mcgee%22%20postal&f=false.
- External Crime & Violent Crime Teams: The External Crimes Function of USPIS is a function that investigates any theft of US mail by non employees, assaults of postal employees and or theft and robberies of postal property. This function also investigates robberies of postal facilities and personnel, burglaries of postal facilities, and assaults and murders against postal personnel. This investigative function focuses on ensuring that the sanctity and trust in the U.S. Mail system is maintained.
- Prohibited Mailing Investigations: Prohibited mailing investigations are USPIS investigations that focus on the prohibited mailing of contraband including: narcotics, precursors and proceeds; child pornography and other sexually prohibited materials; and hazardous materials to include, mail bombs, nuclear biological and chemical weapons. The laundering of narcotics and other criminal proceeds through the use of Postal Money Orders are sometimes categorized under this investigative function.
- Aviation and Homeland Security: USPIS investigations also include the securing and protecting of transportation of US Mail and any risk that might compromise the security of the homeland because of these mails. Security Audits are conducted by these teams to ensure that postal service maintains facilities secure from not only theft and robberies but also natural and manmade disasters.
- Revenue Investigations: USPIS investigates cases where fraudulent practices are conducted by business and consumers that mail items without proper or counterfeit postage and indicia or crimes that defraud the USPS of revenue.
- International Investigations and Global Security: This investigative function ensures that international mail is secured and any international business decisions and campaigns remains safe, and secure. USPIS maintains investigators in the US and in posts around the world for protection, liaison, and intelligence.
- Joint Task Force Investigations: USPIS participates in joint task force investigations where laws applicable to the mail service are involved. These cases are often wide ranging and involve every law enforcement agency of the Federal Government. For example, USPIS participated in the largest count indictment and conviction in NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...
history, the Omniplan case, that put seven companies out of business and ended with the conviction of Omniplan owner, Ralph Montijo, on 179 federal crimes.
The Postal Inspection Service operates one main forensic crime laboratory that is staffed by forensic scientists whose expertise includes the examination of physical and digital evidence. The crime laboratory also has several satellite offices across the country whose primary mission is computer forensics. The Postal Inspection Service's Technical Services Division (TSD) provides investigative support through the use of new technology and the operations of two national communication centers known as the National Law Enforcement Control Centers or the "NLECC". [In 2003 Immigration and Customs Enforcement renamed their national communication center, previously known as "Sector" to the "National Law Enforcement COMMUNICATIONS Center" also known as "NLECC", USPIS NLECC and ICE NLECC are two independent federal law enforcement radio communications centers but coincidentally share the same acronym and an almost identical name.
The National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum, located opposite Union Station in Washington, D.C., USA, was established through joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution and opened in 1993. The museum is located across the street from Union Station, in the building that...
in Washington, D.C., exhibits "U.S. Postal Inspectors: The Silent Service" until February 28, 2010.
Postal Police Force
With the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 (effective 1971), a uniformed police force was added to patrol in and around selected high-risk postal facilities in major metropolitan areas in the United States and its territories. These uniformed officers provide a visible deterrent at postal facilities located primarily in urban high-crime areas and respond to emergencies including disturbances, assaults, theft, robberies and other incidents threatening the safety of postal employees and customers. They make arrests for crimes committed against the United States Postal Service and felonies committed in their presence. These employees are required to qualify with agency-issued shotguns and their assigned sidearms and are designated as police officers under Title 18, Part 2, Section 3061(c)
U.S. POSTAL POLICE OFFICERS
As Enacted by the US Congress Title 18 United States Code Section 3061
- The Postal Service may employ police officers for duty in connection with the protection of property owned or occupied by the Postal Service or under the charge and control of the Postal Service, and persons on that property, including duty in areas outside the property to the extent necessary to protect the property and persons on the property. ‘
- With respect to such property, such officers shall have the power to— ‘
- enforce Federal laws and regulations for the protection of persons and property; ‘
- carry firearms; and
- make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of the officer or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony.
- With respect to such property, such officers may have, to such extent as the Postal Service may by regulations prescribe, the power to—
- serve warrants and subpoenas issued under the authority of the United States; and
- conduct investigations, on and off the property in question, of offenses that may have been committed against property owned or occupied by the Postal Service or persons on the property.
The Postal Inspection Service maintains a law enforcement academy (the Career Development Unit (CDU)) based in Potomac, Maryland
Potomac is a census-designated place in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, named for the nearby Potomac River. The population was 44,822 at the 2000 census. The Potomac area is known for its very affluent and highly-educated residents. In 2009 CNNMoney.com listed Potomac as the fourth...
. It is a federally accredited law enforcement academy, however not recognized by some other federal agency employers as such.
The following list shows US Postal Inspectors and Postal Police Officers who have died in the line of duty. Their names have been etched on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall and to a Postal Inspection Service plaque at the agency's national headquarters, both located in Washington, DC.
Post Office Inspector,
Date of Death: 09/23/1909,
Panel 34, E-2
Elbert P. Lamberth,
Post Office Inspector,
Date of Death: 08/17/1917,
Panel 57, E-23
George W. Daniel,
Postal Inspector in Charge,
Date of Death: 09/01/1919,
Panel 27, W-26
Levi C. Chance,
Post Office Inspector,
Date of Death: 02/14/1923,
Panel 20, W-25
Walter R. Ton,
Post Office Inspector,
Date of Death: 01/10/1938,
Panel, 20, W-25
Finton T, McMahon,
Post Office Inspector,
Date of Death, 08/01/1939,
Panel 52, W-26
Ernest M. Harkins,
Post Office Inspector,
Oklahoma City, OK,
Date of Death: 01/12/1949,
Panel 16, E-6
Bruce O. Shaffer,
Post Office Inspector,
Poplar Bluff, MO,
Date of Death: 08/31/1951,
Panel 16, E-6
John P. McAuliffe,
Date of Death: 03/14/1960,
Panel 2, W-11
Benedetto M. Spizzirri,
Date of Death: 03/14/1960,
Panel 58, E-9
Michael J. Healy,
Postal Police Officer,
Date of Death: 06/21/1981,
Panel 64, E-2
Terrance M. Asbury,
Los Angeles, CA,
Date of Death: 02/13/1990,
Panel 54, E-17
Robert F. Jones,
Date of Death: 07/14/2000,
Panel 36, W-22
2 SMRT 4U
In 2006 the Postal Inspection Service created the "2 SMRT 4U" campaign aimed at teenage girls, the group most targeted by online
An online predator is an adult Internet user who exploits vulnerable children or teens, usually for sexual or other abusive purposes.Online victimization of minors can include child grooming, requests to engage in sexual activities or discussions by an adult, unwanted exposure to sexual material ,...
The term sexual predator is used pejoratively to describe a person seen as obtaining or trying to obtain sexual contact with another person in a metaphorically "predatory" manner. Analogous to how a predator hunts down its prey, so the sexual predator is thought to "hunt" for his or her sex partners...
s. It established the website
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...
to educate teens about how to chat
Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet, that offers an instantaneous transmission of text-based messages from sender to receiver, hence the delay for visual access to the sent message shall not hamper the flow of communications in any of the directions...
and post wisely online. For its dedication to protecting children and fighting child exploitation
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation. Forms of child sexual abuse include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities , indecent exposure with intent to gratify their own sexual desires or to...
, the United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...
honored the Postal Inspection Service with its Internet Safety Award.
- 2001 anthrax attacks
The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, also known as Amerithrax from its Federal Bureau of Investigation case name, occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, one week after the September 11 attacks. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to...
Bioterrorism is terrorism involving the intentional release or dissemination of biological agents. These agents are bacteria, viruses, or toxins, and may be in a naturally occurring or a human-modified form. For the use of this method in warfare, see biological warfare.-Definition:According to the...
- DSS - U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Department of State
The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service is the federal law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. The majority of its Special Agents are members of the Foreign Service and federal law enforcement agents at the same time, making them unique...
, See DSS history about USPIS
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Letter bomb
- List of United States federal law enforcement agencies
- Mailbox baseball
Mailbox baseball or mailboxing is the act of using a baseball bat or other objects to knock over, dent, or smash roadside mailboxes by a passenger in a car. It can be played either as a game, with score kept in a manner similar to baseball, or played simply for aimless fun...
- Mail fraud
- Plymouth Mail Robbery
The Plymouth Mail Robbery, or what the press dubbed "The Great Plymouth Mail Truck Robbery" was, at the time of its occurrence, the largest cash heist of all time. On 14 August 1962, two gunmen stopped a U.S. Mail truck that was delivering $1.5 million dollars in small bills from Cape Cod to the...
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...
- White Collar Crime
- Wire fraud
Mail and wire fraud is a federal crime in the United States. Together, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, and 1346 reach any fraudulent scheme or artifice to intentionally deprive another of property or honest services with a nexus to mail or wire communication....