Just when you thought your express mail package was safe from government intrusion, think again. Police at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport are now free to remove any package from a conveyor belt and subject it to a sniff by a narcotics detection dog. This seeming violation of the Fourth Amendment is no longer considered an unreasonable search and seizure in Minnesota. If the package was shipped from California or Arizona, it may appear suspicious to a police officer as these states are known a source states for the shipment of narcotics. If the shipment was overnight and paid for with cash, again, suspicion may be aroused as drug dealers are known to ship packages overnight to keep drugs in the system as short a time as possible. These transactions are usually paid for in cash. Of special concern to the police officer is any package with a hand-printed label sent person to person, instead of business to business as overnight delivery is expensive. Also, when the phone number of the sender and recipient are not listed, an officer will assume an evil purpose. Any fictitious address for the sender may also creates suspicion of criminal activity. Alarm bells will sound and the package will probably be subjected to a narcotics dog sniff.
Surprisingly, no real suspicion of criminal activity is even required for the officer to seize a package from the conveyor belt at the airport. As long as there is no meaningful interference with the timely delivery of the package, there is no violation of the Fourth Amendment. The sniff of a packager by a narcotics detection dog is not even considered an unreasonable search. The courts in Minnesota have determined there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in the package as the sniff of the exterior is noninvasive.
The moral of the story? Shipment by mail of narcotics may result in an arrest.