Drugs Seized in Mail Center Bust

By Kyle Finck

Shortly after 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4 three Middlebury Police Officers exited McCullough Student Center carrying a package containing marijuana that had been shipped to a student.

While there is no official version of exactly how the events of the confiscation unfolded, multiple accounts from student employees of the mail center and witnesses who were in McCullough at the time shed light on the situation.

A senior college administrator confirmed to the Campus that the package contained a sizable amount of a substance that appeared to be marijuana and was turned over to the Middlebury Police Department. The administrator added that incidents such as this are “exceedingly rare.”

The package originally raised suspicions because of its smell, according to students present at the time. When mail center staff members called Public Safety, Sergeant Chris Thompson responded, opening the package and subsequently handing the evidence over the Middlebury Police Department.

“I was standing in front of Midd-Xpress and saw three officers walk in followed by a public safety officer,” Matt Butler ’15 said. “They were in the back room for 10 minutes, then the three came out, one holding a plastic bag with a decently sized box inside.”

Maddie Dai ’14 was working at the College Box Office in McCullough when she saw the police officers escorted by Thompson entering the mail center.

“They came back through with a USPS [United States Postal Service] box in a clear plastic bag,” Dai said. “The box was about the size of a laptop box, so fairly big. They stayed in the area, and later I saw two policemen and one public safety officer interviewing a young man by the bathrooms located near the mail center.”

The legal fate of the student the package was addressed to will hinge on a number of factors. If the District Attorney deems that the marijuana was intended for personal use, or possession in legal terms, anything less than two ounces will be considered a misdemeanor offense. If the student is charged with an intent to sell, anything between a half of an ounce and one pound can be considered a felony, which can result in up to five years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Neither Public Safety nor the Middlebury Police Department would comment on the exact weight of the confiscated marijuana.

None of the students working in the mail center that the Campus talked to would speak on the record or agree to be quoted, citing the delicate nature of the incident and the tight-knit community within the mail center. None of the students working at the time recalled experiencing a similar incident, however, proving the rarity of a drug confiscation.

As the mail center is not staffed with x-ray scanners nor has any means of searching the contents of students’ packages, there is no easy way to uncover hard numbers on the amount or diversity of drugs or other substances that go in and out of the mail center. Federal law prohibits the opening of another’s mail without prior permission or a search warrant, contributing to the difficulty of regulating or searching package contents.

Jennifer Stocker, one of the College’s mail clerks, would not talk about the incident when contacted. But she did say that in September alone, however, that the mail center received over 6,000 USPS packages.