A Maryland man accused of using the United States Postal Service as his own personal cannabis courier system pleaded guilty in federal court this week, closing a criminal enterprise that authorities say distributed more than 100 kilos or 220 pounds of black market marijuana across Baltimore.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Michael Gray told prosecutors that from November 2017 to November 2018, he paid Baltimore-based postal employee William McRae in both cash and cannabis to coordinate the shipping and delivery of packages containing massive amounts of marijuana sent directly to Maryland from California.
Days before each parcel left the Golden State, Gray would contact McRae to alert him of the incoming delivery. When the packages arrived at the Baltimore post office, McRae would immediately mark the packages "delivered" and bring them to locations specified by Gray. According to court records, over 200 suspicious packages were mailed from California to the specific zip code in Baltimore where McRae worked.
“The packages routinely contained between 1 and 7 kilograms each and would often arrive in batches of up [to] six or seven packages at a time,” McRae’s plea agreement reads.
In addition to long highway trips and checked bags on commercial flights, delivery by United States Postal Service is a fairly typical cross-country distribution method for America’s black market marijuana sellers. But while most criminal networks are content to disguise their packages and hope for the best, McRae’s role as an inside man allowed Gray’s drug ring to operate with an illusion of safety — until police caught on.
It is not exactly clear how federal authorities got wind of McRae and Gray’s post office drug diversions, but once they did, investigators played the long game, watching McRae deliver package after package during a year-long surveillance operation. On November 20, 2018, cops finally made their move, arresting both men as they moved a parcel containing 2 kilos of weed from McRae’s mail truck to Gray’s car.
Marijuana is legal medicinally in Maryland, but with no laws protecting interstate trafficking by way of an unsuspecting federal agency, McRae and Gray will now bear the full weight of America’s remaining War on Weed, with the two men facing 40 and 20 years in prison, respectively. Federal authorities did not divulge whether any other co-conspirators have been charged in the USPS pot scheme.
McRae is scheduled to be sentenced next month, while Gray will have his fate decided in September.
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter