Police have warned that drug dealers are increasingly utilising the post in order to send huge consignments of cannabis across the United Kingdom in attempts to avoid checks at ports.
Recently, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Border Force officials have blocked several packages, including a parcel that contains herbal cannabis that is worth £60,000 which is destined for an address in Belfast.
Detective Inspector Pete Mullan said that criminals fearing the security checks at borders are making use of standard mail services in the hope that the illegal deliveries go unnoticed among the millions of other parcels.
He added: “The drugs come from the rest of the UK posted into Northern Ireland and from overseas as well, it’s a common method of dealers getting delivery of drugs.
“It’s something we are seeing more and more… I think they see it as a low-risk option.”
Detective Inspector Mullan said that drugs had been discovered to be hidden inside other objects, saying: “We’ve seen them packaged in children’s toys coming through the post.
“It can be put inside anything and sent in that way, it can be packaged as something else completely – numerous ways.”
Investigations held by the police have been frustrated by dealers who move quickly between rented properties in order to receive shipments.
The £60,000 package was meant for a home that is located in Belfast. However, when the police raided the home, they discovered that the occupant responsible had already left.
It happens as the police in Northern Ireland confiscate increasing numbers of cannabis packages, with seizures that are totalling to 4,618 in the last 12 months compared to the 4,375 in the year before. The volume confiscated has dropped from 366kg to 145kg in the same period.
DI Mullan warned: “People do need to think about where their money is going.
“It’s not just something they are doing for themselves, it has a far wider impact on the health system, on other individuals and communities and it allows organised crime to flourish.”
Various smugglers have been caught trying to take cannabis into the United Kingdom.
In April, a man from Malaysia arriving at Edinburgh airport on a flight from Madrid was discovered with 10kg of cannabis with a street value of around £100,000. He was later put in jail for 18 months.
Possession of cannabis can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and an unlimited fine, while the supply and production of cannabis can see the offenders put in jail for a maximum of 14 years.
Amid persistent proposals for cannabis to be legalised by some campaigners, the Labour government lowered the class B drug to class C between 2004 and 2009.