An interesting thread that was posted on reddit today: http://www.reddit.com/r/SilkRoad/comments/1rhq7z/safe_shippingwhat_is_it/
Following a great AMA thread with a postal worker: http://www.reddit.com/r/reloaded/comments/1rdgb0?sort=hot
I would take these adivices with a grain of Salt but its a great sum up of the information thats been floating around this topic on the forums:
This is based off extensive research of FBI, DEA and Customs manuals.
What it is
Safe shipping means packaging and mailing products in ways that minimize risk for all involved. Safe shipping is more than packaging a product to reduce risk of interception, it is also using techniques to avoid liability for the shipper and recipient for any seized products.
List of things customs looks for
The following is a list of things customs uses to screen for suspicious parcels. A suspicious attribute of a parcel is called a flag. A single flag is often not much of a problem, but the more flags a package has the higher the chances it will be intercepted.
- No return address
- Restrictive markings (such as writing “Personal!” on the envelope)
- Misspelled words
- Poorly typed or written text
- Excessive postage
- Addressed to an incorrect title
- Sent from a foreign country
- Sealed with tape
- Emits a strange odor (Including masking agents such as coffee, perfume and fabric softener sheets)
- Lopsided, uneven, rigid, bulky or otherwise uneven weight distribution
- Oily stains, discolorations and crystallizations on packaging
- Packaging appears to be re-used
- Package looks generally poorly prepared for shipping
- addresses are hand written
- addresses contain mispelled information (such as names, streets or cities)
- Originate from a drug source state
- Are addressed as being sent from an individual to an individual
- Return address ZIP code does not match ZIP code of the post office the package is being sent from
- A fictitious return address is used
- List a sender or receiver name of a common type (Such as John Smith)
- Make use of names that are not connected to either address
- Package makes noise when shaken
- Redistribution of weight is felt when package is moved or tilted
List of Ways customs uses technology to detect packages
- Terahertz ray scanning
“illuminating a target envelope with tunable terahertz radiation and analyzing the absorption spectra of the resulting image. The results are cross referenced with a database of spectra to check for the chemicals of interest.”
Currently it takes ten minutes to fully scan and analyze a single letter, although increasing this speed to one minute per letter is in the grasp of current technology. Even with this potential decrease in the amount of time it takes to scan individual letters, this system could not be implemented en masse without slowing the mail system down to a screeching halt. It is much more likely that this technology will be used to scan mail that has already been flagged by customs personnel using other methods.
- infrared and X-ray scanning
Infrared scanners and Xrays work fundamentally in the same way. They are used to detect irregularities in envelopes or packages, which is possible cause for further investigation by other more precise means.
- Drug dogs
Drug dogs are trained to detect even trace amounts of controlled substances in the mail and are used by virtually all customs agencies world wide. Despite their excellent ability to detect certain substances, the overwhelming amount of mail in the system means that they will not be able to sniff all mail. In addition to this, drug dogs are not trained to smell the vast majority of existing psychoactive substances, and due to the staggering number of said substances it is virtually impossible that they ever will be.
- Drug residue detectors
“traces of controlled substances are collected on a small filter held in the end of a vacuum sweeper hose which has been previously tested to insure no contamination. The instrument uses an analytical technique in which the traces of controlled substances on the filter are heated to vapors and ionized. The time required for the ions to drift through an electric field is measured and the substances are identified by the “drift” time through the electric field. ”
list of ways customs trace intercepted mail and gather evidence
- Fingerprinting the outside and inside of a package
- Handwriting analysis
- Analyzing paper and ink
- Analyzing type impressions
- Forensic analysis of trace evidence (Adhesives, fibers, hair, paint, paper, plastic, rubber, tape and insulation from safes).
- Post office surveillance of individuals suspected of sending or receiving drug mail
- To bust recipients of intercepted drug mail, customs officials will often dress as postmen and make an arrest after the suspect accepts the package. Often times they will allow a few minutes to pass in hopes that the suspect will have opened the package.
- There are reports of tracking devices being hidden inside intercepted packages when they are being sent to a safe location such as fraudulently obtained PO boxes. The tracking devices then follow the receipient back to their base location where an arrest is later made.
Packaging tips for senders
- Use a real return address but make sure it has no connection to you. Ensure the ZIP code used is the same one of the drop box you plan to send the package from. A generally sound practice is to use the legitimate address of an apartment complex but do NOT specify an actual number.
- Change return addresses, especially the name sent from, on a semi frequent basis. The name used should be generic but not overly common.
- Keep the front of the package as clean as possible. It should have no markings other than a shipping and return address.
- Double check to make sure all information is correct. Also ensure that all words are spelled correctly.
- Both addresses should be typed and printed, not handwritten. Ensure the printer used has minimal connection to you (paid for in cash, from a friend, not used for other things)
- Exact postage should be applied neatly to the package.
- Do not seal the package with tape
- Use self adhesive envelopes and stamps.
- Do not attempt to use masking scents
- Double vacuum seal the substance, attempting to spread substance out as thinly and evenly as possible
- Using heavy duty tape, secure the vacuum sealed bag to a piece of construction paper. Make sure it is secured tightly and that product does not make noises when shaken.
- Fold the construction paper over on itself to make it take up as little area as possibly yet still be accommodating for the vacuum sealed bag.
- If the thicker cardboard priority envelopes are available, the first envelope should be inserted into one of these. Both envelopes should be addressed.
Security tips for senders
- At all stages of packaging gloves should be worn. Latex gloves should NOT be used by themselves. Tight fitting gloves made out of cloth or some other material should be utilized. During the stage of packaging where you come in contact with the substance, latex gloves should be worn over the regular gloves. After the substance is vacuum sealed, the latex over gloves should be removed and disposed of before coming into contact with the outer parts of the packaging, to avoid contaminating it with trace amounts of the substance.
- Hairnets and long sleeved clothing should be worn during all stages of packaging to prevent hairs from entering the package.
- Packages should not be sent from inside post offices but from random drop boxes away from cameras and buildings with cameras. Some care should none the less be taken to disguise facial features and identifying marks.
- keep in mind that the total weight of a package sent via one of the drop off boxes, at least in the United States, is 13 ounces or less.
Security tips for recipients
- The best option for recipients it to use PO boxes or PMBs obtained with fake identification. Mom and Pop box companies often have poor security compared to franchises, for example they are less likely to require photocopies of the ID and also are less likely to have a camera system, or if they do have a camera system it is probably very poor as compared to a big franchise company. Recipients using PO boxes should wait for a lengthy yet random period of time after the package arrives to attempt retrieval. This waiting period dramatically decreases the chances of being apprehended as prolonged surveillance is very expensive. Disguising efforts should be utilized when retrieving packages, and test runs should also be attempted.
- Another excellent option is to have packages sent to abandoned buildings or houses. The same security methods should be applied as when using a fraudulently obtained mail box.
- If a recipient must have a package delivered to a place connected with them, they should ensure said place is clean between shipments. Clean houses of friends can also be used. Upon receiving a package to a place with connections to the recipient, they should not open it and write return to sender on it. After several days, then the package is safe to be opened. Recipient should NEVER select to have shipping methods which require a package to be signed for.
- Regardless of the place the package is delivered, the recipient should opt the quickest shipping method possible so long as a signature is not required. This way if their are delays in shipping, it can alert the recipient, and it will require any interceptor to rush getting warrants prepared before a suspicious delay in package delivery is noticed. Tracked mail with out delivery confirmation is an excellent option, as the recipient can follow the status of the package online (using Tor!) and can be alerted if the package is held by customs for a prolonged period of time. Edit/Delete Message