CINCINNATI -- Cocaine molded into shipping pallets. Dolls stuffed with heroin. A Cookie Monster doll with a belly full of snacks Big Bird would never allow.
Drug smugglers across the globe have resorted to these and other extravagant methods to carry their product across state and national borders, but some in the United States have come up with another tactic: Just seal it up and stick it in the mail.
Incredibly, it's working.
"It's just so easy to get stuff through the mail," Drug Enforcement Administration agent Tim Reagan said. "It's not like they're checking your ID or anything either. You're walking up, you're paying a fee and off it goes."
United States Postal Service inspections are finding more drugs in parcels than ever before, according to USPS spokesman David Van Allen. Between 2016 and 2017, the Postal Inspection Service found drugs in 375 percent more international packages and 880 percent more domestic packages.
Their contents are more dangerous, too.
"The purity of the fentanyl that we're seeing in the express consignment and the mail facilities is closer to 97-98 percent purity, which means it's that much more lethal," Chicago-area director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Matt Davis said.
Davis said inspectors work as hard as they can to prevent these substances from making it through the system undetected, but the problem is threefold: Technology, funds and manpower are all lacking.
"When you're dealing with millions of packages -- and I couldn't even tell you how many post offices are in the Tri-State area -- we do our best," Reagan said. "There's just so many avenues and opportunities for these groups to use our own systems against us, and they do."