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Pot-Laden Parcels Mailed To Grand Rapids From Arizona


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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) – A West Michigan man who had marijuana shipped here from Arizona using Express Mail will be spending the next six years in federal prison.

For nearly two years, Joe Willie Thompson orchestrated a marijuana conspiracy in which cardboard boxes filled with marijuana were mailed to Grand Rapids from Phoenix, according to federal court documents.

Thompson is among a growing number of West Michigan drug dealers using Priority Mail and Express Mail to receive drugs from out-of-state, notably Arizona, Texas and California.

In the past year, dozens of packages have been intercepted in Grand Rapids containing heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.

In Brown's case, it was packaged in plain cardboard boxes. Others get more creative. A Zeeland couple had Teddy Bears packed with crystal methamphetamine mailed here from California.

Express Mail and Priority Mail are favored because of speed, reliability and free tracking service. Express Mail offers overnight delivery and Priority Mail has two-day service.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in July indicted Thompson for conspiracy to deliver more than 220 pounds of marijuana. He was arrested in Phoenix.

Thompson in October pleaded guilty to a reduced marijuana delivery charge which is punishable by up to five years in federal prison.

Because of prior felony convictions, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker imposed the six-year term and ordered Thompson to pay a $1,200 fine. He'll also spend four years on supervised release once he gets out of prison.


Marijuana mailed to Grand Rapids from Arizona (Photo: File art)


Postal inspectors sidelined the pot-laden packages for further scrutiny because of several red flags: They were larger and heavier than typical Express Mail parcels, which usually weigh less than eight ounces. Mailing labels were hand-written, unlike typical business mailings that use typed labels.

Delivery fees were paid in cash, rather than through a business account. On one of the packages, the return address came back to a McDonald's restaurant in Avondale, Ariz. The package was destined for a home on Kalamazoo Avenue SE, but the recipient's name didn't match the address.

Postal authorities in recent years have stepped-up investigative work in cities identified as known sources of controlled substances, notably Arizona. In 2012, U.S. postal inspectors and cooperating police agencies made 2,300 drug-related arrests and seized more than $20 million in narcotics.

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how come they go after the low-level guys and never seem to find the head honcho?


Low-level guys are pretty good at not rolling on their bosses?


Bosses are pretty good at keeping their low-level guys from rolling on them?


Low-level guys make for good newspaper stories while presenting a low-risk of armed confrontation for LEO?


The head honcho is paying off LEO to keep investigations from getting to them?


LEO is the head honcho?


Some, all and none of the above?

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