There's a chance that the FedEx employee bringing packages to your door might actually be an undercover cop on the hunt for illegal drugs.
The global shipping giant apparently has a little-known agreement that allows local police departments to seize contraband packages being shipped via its services. Under this agreement, cops with K9 drug dogs are allowed to search for potentially suspicious packages at any of the company’s sorting centers. If a sniffer dog indicates that a package could contain drugs, FedEx will allow cops to seize the parcel, dress up as its delivery drivers, and deliver the suspicious package themselves.
Kansas City native Herbert Green discovered this obscure agreement firsthand when local cops busted him for having weed shipped to his house. Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) Detective Antonio Garcia initially discovered a suspicious package addressed to Green at a local FedEx shipping center. Garcia told Reason that he found the package suspicious because it was a moving box with glued seams that had been shipped from Brownsville, Texas, a region cops refer to as a “source city for illegal narcotics.”
Garcia's K9 sniffed the package and alerted him that she could smell drugs inside. The KCPD seized the package and had an undercover cop dressed in a FedEx uniform deliver it to Green's door. Once the unsuspecting recipient brought the box into his house, the cops busted in and performed a warrantless search of his home. Cops found weed in the package, and also uncovered more weed and two firearms during the search.
Green was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in jail for possessing firearms in the furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He eventually appealed the case, however, arguing that the cops violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In his defense, Green's attorneys argued that the initial seizure of the package was unconstitutional because it was identified by a cop, and not a FedEx employee.
This month, a federal court decided against Green, ruling that it was perfectly legal for the police to seize the package because FedEx gave them explicit permission to do so. "FedEx can control its own rights,” Berkeley law professor Orin Kerr explained to Reason. “It has Fourth Amendment rights, and it can invite the police in.” Even so, Kerr said he was surprised that the collaboration between the police and the company was “so formalized.”
“They've always cooperated with law enforcement," said John Wesley Hall, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and an expert in Fourth Amendment law, to Reason. “Sometimes the cops are dressed like a FedEx driver delivering the package to the house. They've done that forever. And FedEx cooperates with them — even loans them the truck."
Hall believes that the police will continue to “exploit” their agreement with FedEx so they can keep waging the failed War on Drugs. "The problem for the rest of us is what are they doing with others, like UPS, DHL, the Postal Service? It's got to be throughout the system. It's not just FedEx."