Mark A. Simon and his alleged co-conspirators used USPS to ship high-quality fake IDs throughout the country.
Once again the U.S. Postal Service finds itself serving the shipping needs of criminals, as is alleged in the break-up of a Toledo-based fake identification card-making operation.
Accused fake ID entrepreneur Mark Simon of Toledo and his alleged conspirators took orders for fake driver’s licenses on the Internet, crafted them with quality and care, and then sent the cards through the Postal Service, which was happy to bank the postage fee.
The Postal Service has emerged as the shipper of choice for criminals who serve illegal markets in drugs and identity crime. It needs to take stock and introduce measures that will discourage and identify those using the mails to send contraband.
At the international level, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s proposed law, the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act — or STOP Act — would require advanced electronic data on international packages shipped through the USPS. It has 29 co-sponsors — Republicans and Democrats, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Mr. Simon is charged under federal law with production of false identification documents, transferring false identification documents, and possession of equipment used to produce false identification documents.
According to the allegations, Mr. Simon received orders for the fake IDs. He had three alleged accomplices, who also face charges. It was their jobs to process the photos and personal information into fake identification cards, package them for delivery, drop them off at the Post Office, and also launder the illegal revenue.
Sen. Portman’s committee investigated the USPS and detailed how fentanyl suppliers in China and Mexico used the Postal Service to get their products into the U.S. because no electronic tracking information was required. As a result, investigators could not track a suspicious package back to a particular location.
In 2002, Congress required that carriers like FedEx and UPS include advance electronic data on their packages. They left it up to the Postmaster General to decide if it should be used on Postal Service packages. It never has been.
On its face, the Portman bill addresses international shippers. To the extent that any of Mr. Simon’s suppliers or customers required an international shipment, the STOP Act could help identify bad actors. As e-commerce expands, so do the obligations of shippers to avoid being utilized as a dupe in a criminal operation.
Congress needs to order the USPS to act promptly to require shipping data that will block fentanyl shipments. If those shipping labels would also make it harder to ship fake IDs through the mail, so much the better.
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