Inspection Service Home Page NEWS RELEASE
National Public Information Officer

September 9, 2009

Contact: Postal Inspector Peter R. Rendina, 202-268-3700,

Postal Inspectors Keep the U.S. Mail Safe

Washington — On Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2009, an improvised explosive device (IED) was delivered through the US Mail to a postal customer in Visalia, CA. When the postal customer opened an item inside of the mail parcel the IED exploded, the customer was injured and transported to the hospital and has since been released.

Over the last 200 years Postal Inspectors have found that individuals who send explosive devices through the mail have a very specific target and they almost always involve a jilted love interest, an act of revenge, or a political or religious grievance.

The U.S. Postal Service collected, processed, and delivered more than 1 trillion pieces of mail since 2005 and Postal Inspectors have identified only 13 IEDs in the postal system during that time. And of the 13 incidents, only one person was injured and Postal Inspectors arrested eight suspects.

To protect postal customers, items weighing more than 13 ounces must be presented for mailing to an employee at a Post Office retail service counter. Business customers who use postage meters may continue to use meter postage for packages of any weight and mailing method.

Postal Inspectors advise you follow these steps if you encounter a suspicious letter or package:

  1. Isolate suspicious items and secure the immediate area.
  2. Note any writing or markings on the outside of the item, without disturbing it.
  3. Contact Postal Inspectors and, if anyone is having medical problems or if smoke or vapors are present, also call 911.

Individuals responsible for mailing an IED with the intent to kill or injure may be fined and imprisoned up to 20 years. If death results from the mailing, the death penalty may be implemented (Title 18 USC 1716 (j)(2)(3)).

If you have information about anyone using the U.S. Mail to commit a crime, call U.S. Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455.

About the U.S. Postal Inspection Service
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is one of the oldest federal law enforcement agencies in the country. For more than 200 years, Postal Inspectors have protected the U.S. Postal Service, secured the nationís mail system, and ensured public trust in the mail. To learn more, visit

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