Two men, one of whom is a Baltimore mail carrier, have pleaded guilty to smuggling marijuana into the city through the U.S. Postal Service. Both men face decades in federal prison as punishment for their convictions, according to a report in local media.
Michael Gray pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana this week and could spend up to 20 years in prison for his role in the smuggling operation. William McRae, an employee of the Postal Service, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and faces incarceration of up to 40 years.
Investigators discovered that since early 2017, more than 200 packages deemed to be suspicious had all been shipped from California to the 21223 ZIP code in Baltimore. The parcels had all been sent to addresses that were on McRae’s carrier route, according to court documents.
On November 17, 2017, investigators learned that eight Priority Mail packages were on their way to the same Baltimore address at 1100 Hollins Street. Three of the parcels were intercepted en route and each was found to contain approximately one kilogram of a green plant material that tested positive for marijuana.
Suspicious Packages Lead to Surveillance of Mail Carrier
In early January 2018, investigators discovered that two more packages, each weighing 10 pounds, were being shipped to the same Baltimore address from California. McRae’s mail route was then put under surveillance by investigators, who saw McRae park his USPS vehicle on the street before being met by another man later identified as Gray, who arrived in a silver Volvo and parked behind the mail carrier.
Investigators watched as McRae handed a package to Gray. USPS records revealed that he had scanned one of the suspicious packages as being delivered at the time and location of the meeting with Gray. The second package was never delivered to Baltimore, according to Postal Service data.
Later in January, postal investigators learned that seven more packages, six weighing about 20 pounds and the last about two pounds, were on the way to the same Baltimore address. Two of the packages were intercepted and a search warrant was obtained by investigators. The packages were then opened and one was found to contain 1,005 grams of cannabis, while the other had 6,750 grams of marijuana.
In November 2018, five more parcels were intercepted. A search warrant was obtained for one of the packages and investigators found 2,160 grams of marijuana. The parcel was then repackaged and allowed to continue on its way, with investigators once again setting up surveillance of McRae while delivering his route.
Investigators observed McRae and Gray as the men met again and transferred several packages to Gray’s vehicle. As Gray attempted to reenter his car, he was taken into custody by investigators, who discovered that the packages handed to the suspect contained around two kilograms of marijuana.
In January, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that her office would no longer file charges in cases of simple marijuana possession no matter the quantity, but that decision has no impact on charges brought for federal offenses.