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Departments : A Closer Look

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Inspectors ensure the integrity of mail delivery.

August 01, 2000  |  by Robert Bethel

Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth C. Weaver heads one of the oldest and most distinguished federal law enforcement agencies in the country, the United States Postal Inspection Service. Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the USPIS, headquartered in Washington, D.C., has a long proud and successful history of fighting criminals who attack our nation's postal system and misuse it to defraud, endanger or otherwise threaten the American public.


As fact-finding and investigative agents, postal inspectors are federal officers who carry firearms, make arrests and serve federal search warrants and subpoenas. Inspectors work closely with U.S. Attorneys, other law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors to investigate postal cases and prepare them for court.

There are approximately 2,000 postal inspectors stationed throughout 18 divisions across the United States. We enforce more than 200 federal laws covering investigations of crimes that adversely affect or make fraudulent use of the U.S. mail and postal system. Our investigative efforts resulted in more than 10,000 arrests last year alone.  Some of the Service's most important areas of jurisdiction include investigations of:

Assaults against postal employees.

Bombs in the mail. (Postal inspectors played an integral role on a multi-agency task force, in arresting the Unabomber.)

Mail Fraud. (Televangelist Jim Bakker, of the Praise The Lord (PTL) Club, was arrested by postal inspectors for mail fraud after taking $178 million of his viewers' mailed donations and converting the funds for his own use.)

Money Laundering (Recently, postal inspectors and the Broward County Sheriff's Office interdicted proceeds from drug sales mailed from New York to commercial mail receiving agencies in Florida.  Inspectors found more than $700,000 in cash sealed in ten scuba tanks.)

Other types of crimes investigated include:

Burglary Child Exploitation Controlled Substances Embezzlement Identity Fraud Electronic Commerce Crime Money Order Crimes Robbery Theft of Mail Workers' Compensation Fraud.


Our training facility is located in the William F. Bolger Center for Leadership Development in Potomac, Md.  All postal inspectors engage in 14 weeks of scenario-based basic training, covering investigative techniques, court procedures, postal operations, and a detailed study of federal laws under USPIS jurisdiction.  Postal inspectors are continually offered opportunities for educational and training updates.

Plans for the Future

Postal inspectors have been dubbed "cybercops" by the media for our aggressive efforts in this area.  Crimes involving the Internet, electronic commerce and identity theft are top priorities.  But we also remain committed to protecting the American public by aggressively investigating, arresting and seeking prosecution of those individuals who use the mails in furtherance of criminal activities.

Inspector Robert Bethel, an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, is currently assigned to the agency's headquarters as national public information officer.

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