Silk Road forums

Support => Customer support => Topic started by: rojo on April 21, 2013, 06:28 pm

Title: not priority, priority
Post by: rojo on April 21, 2013, 06:28 pm
Anyone else having issues with priority mail taking way longer than it should to arrive? Thanks
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: xpsbud on April 21, 2013, 06:46 pm
I've had great success with Priority shipping with most packages making it to customers in two days. I've only had one package around Easter that went bouncing around coast to coast for 6-7days.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: 1455992 on April 21, 2013, 08:41 pm
My last priority package took 5 days to arrive.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: pine on April 21, 2013, 09:14 pm
You shouldn't be using priority of any stripe, you should explain to the customer that their packages are less likely to be intercepted if they're mixed up with a larger volume of mail. Let them make the choice if they want to take higher risks. I even see people using signing for packages, WTF is that?

The idea that speed is the key to avoiding a controlled delivery is going to become increasingly less and less true. Surveiling the entire mail system and running spot checks is one thing, but a much much smaller pool of mail only encourages the USPS inspectors to develop a new bag of tricks.

People are carrying over bad habits from their pre-SR days. The game has changed and swarming packages is the best technique for the highest return and lowest risk.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: slysamuel0109 on April 22, 2013, 05:14 pm
People are carrying over bad habits from their pre-SR days. The game has changed and swarming packages is the best technique for the highest return and lowest risk.

You mean like just spamming your drop with a ton of legal packages to help blend in the SR packs?
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: 1455992 on April 26, 2013, 05:49 am
People are carrying over bad habits from their pre-SR days. The game has changed and swarming packages is the best technique for the highest return and lowest risk.

You mean like just spamming your drop with a ton of legal packages to help blend in the SR packs?
I think he meant like using a rate of mail that has more traffic than priority, which honestly didn't make sense to me. I think people are too paranoid. Just because it's a flatrate priority envelope doesn't mean it sets off huge alarms. As long as the vendor covers their end with stealth, i don't see it being problematic. But yeah... Signing for packages? DAFUQ.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: Cimicon-Rep on April 26, 2013, 07:13 pm
Pine is correct in theory but not in practice... yet. A Postal Inspector is still required to get a warrant to open mail. To obtain a warrant requires probable cause. USPS flat rate Priority Mail boxes and envelopes mix in together quite well. For one, they don't stand out amongst other PM packages unless you overly tape them up. The key to stealth is simply blending in. Too much stealth and you draw suspicion. That sort of suspicion says you've got something to hide. That may be enough for probably cause which is how a warrant is obtained.

Also handwritten addresses and fake return addresses may stand out.

Anyway, PM can take 3 to 4 days in some cases depending on the sorting centers it passes through. 2 to 3 is still the average for most parts of the country.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: pine on April 26, 2013, 07:46 pm
People are carrying over bad habits from their pre-SR days. The game has changed and swarming packages is the best technique for the highest return and lowest risk.

You mean like just spamming your drop with a ton of legal packages to help blend in the SR packs?

No, that is cover for receiving, usually in a vendor to vendor context, I'm talking about interception rates of packages sent.

Presently we know that well over 98% of packages get through without any form of detection. The volume of mail that flows in the world is truly colossal, in the hundreds of billions of items. This means that this is not about economics and it never has been, but about smuggling tradecraft to avoid providing leads to law enforcement in order to maintain a low profile.

Out of the remaining 2%, my guess is that at least two thirds are down to scams, mislaid parcels or simple mistakes, at either the vendor or buyer's side.

This leaves ~0.6% unaccounted for, which I believe is the true interception rate for LE agents (I'm being 'optimistic').

However, out of those 0.6%, a disproportionate number of the packages belong to substandard vendor techniques, if I were to guess 20% of vendors account for 80% of intercepts. Ex-Darknet drug dealers have entirely different set of statistics because they are generally seriously stupid people. So we should be examine the difference between what makes a sophisticated vendor vs a naive one.

With a little tradecraft, it becomes possible to dramatically decrease the odds of interception.

We know that the police who work for the postal services can take each intercepted package and:

- take fingerprints inside/outside.
- take photographs of the package, the contents for permanent storage (afterwards contents are normally destroyed).
- record the probable source and the destination.
- they may use a tool to pick up small hairs, tiny skin fragments for DNA analysis. This is most likely for weapons like bombs or large amount of product, since such a process is not cheap.
- take notes of any unusual characteristics of the package, most especially the concealment technique.

The logical next step for this and other forms of analysis is to collect evidence, that when added up and in combination with algorithmic analysis, can spot patterns across borders. Since we like to keep ahead, let's assume this is already secretly accomplished.

JanetReno, an insider has described some of the above process, I suggest you read that thread, it is most informative. We also have plenty of supporting evidence from other sources, including the use of electronic odor detection devices, sniffer dogs and ion spectrometry. High technology is used at either specific instances in time or specific geographical locations where LE agents have the upper hand e.g. Operation Pangaea is a worldwide interception event which focuses on the IOPs, which actually account for the vast majority of seized (legal) drugs, or places such as Japan or Australia (or places like prisons, airports) where they have natural geographical advantages that trend towards centralization of the mail system and thus make it easier to focus their efforts.

It is these locations and time periods that account for a rise in the number of intercepts. With the right thinking, a vendor can bring the interception rate down to such an insignificant number that for practical purposes they are completely invisible, to go from 1 in 200 packages intercepted, to 1 in 20,000 or more.

Project PolyFront explains the concept simply with a general rule:

The literal definition of anonymity is a state of namelessness. A more technical definition of anonymity is the state of being indistinguishable from a given set size. As an example, imagine a closed communication interface with several hundred members. If all of the members use the name 'anonymous' to make their posts, they are indistinguishable from each other based on naming information (however, they may not be anonymous based off IP information). However, they are not indistinguishable from those who are not a part of the system. If two people have access to an anonymous suggestion box, any suggestion in the box may be anonymous but the set size is two. The higher your set size is, the more anonymous you are.

-- Project PolyFront


To use a metaphor, if we were animals, we'd be herds of zebra or schools of fish. Our objective is to be as zebra-like as possible.

A proper vendor staging area involves something like this:

First you need to prevent contamination. Then you need to prevent "fingerprinting" in the generic sense of the word.

1. Get a haircut regularly, take a shower before each consignment to be packaged and thoroughly scrub down.

2. Put on disposable gloves (normal gloves will leave consistent fibers over time).

3. Put on a hairnet or similar head covering. Put on a facemask.

4. Take a business mailer out of a sealed package.

5. Vacuum pack product with LDPE or preferably HDPP, between 1 and 3 times depending on the distance to travel. Or use MBBs or 'bear bags'. This will dramatically reduce the odds of a dog, human scenting the product. This mostly applies to products such as cocaine or weed, but obviously not to LSD, legal products or more obscure products.

6. Print a shipping label using a thermal printer. This is because the printer, ink and paper used can be potentially used to fingerprint a unique vendor. Google search "printer tracking dots" if you don't believe me.

7. Ensure the quantity of product is suitable. This can vary widely depending on domestic or international, what jurisdiction you're in etc. As a general rule less than an ounce for weed, less than 10g for anything else. When sending more than 10g break up the packages into parts. Mailers and postage is extremely cheap, it's lazy and stupid to be shipping 1kg unless you are using your own transport medium.

8. Never sign for any postal service and never make your customer do so either.

9. Don't use tracking, whether via filternet or by Tor, as we now have evidence this raises red flags. The only sensible use of tracking is to prove buyer fraud.

10. For larger quantities, you should always be biased to using slower and cheaper forms of mail to blend in with the largest volume of packages. Send everything by next day delivery and you're dramatically increasing the risk of interception. Again, Zebras. The other school of thought is the Cheetah. Cheetahs try and ship ASAHP, as fast as humanly possible. They reason that controlled deliveries are not possible because there is no time to analyze the package. They are most concerned with package tracking. Although there is some logic to the Cheetah proposition as LE manpower resources are finite, I believe that it ultimately doesn't pan out, that it is higher risk. This is because a Cheetah attracts attention, and also their movements encourage the development of faster interception technologies such as ion spectrometry and more adaptable LE protocols. It's like the argument between the hare and the tortoise really.

11. Mix up your addressing style e.g. spacing/fonts, whether there is a return address and the return addresses used.

12. Don't ever "overstamp" just in case. Work out the postage to the nearest stamp needed. Obviously don't lick them either.

13. Mix up what postal boxes you use to deposit packages. Ideally don't return to the same box within 1 to 3 months. Either wear gloves or liquid band-aid or put the packages into a larger mailer and shake them out into the box. Analyze your drops for CCTV. Wear dark glasses/cap in summer, some other head covering in winter.

14. If there is a choice in living arrangements, ship from a region of high population density.

15. The majority of smuggling "hiding" techniques, although clever, miss the point because they add add weight, and weight + mail priority level is the largest determinant of interception outside of special space/time circumstances like I mentioned already. The mail system may be large, but it resembles a low pyramid.

16. Delay shipping when we receive information on special operations. Operations like Pangaea are large, they cannot help but leak information.

17. Shipping to customers directly is one thing, but more risk can be taken with weight if the package is arriving at a destination with a trained operator e.g. using 3rd party pickups such as private mailboxes. This is also a situation that may be an exception to the rule about tracking, but you need to use your judgement. Vendor to vendor is quite a different game than vendor to customer, the modes should be distinguished. A dead drop with payment in escrow and private courier is probably the best delivery method with large quantities, but that whole area is a different ballgame to what most SR vendors are doing, you'd be using much more sophisticated techniques like electronic monitoring, intrusion detection mechanisms and so on.

18. Never ship to a an address you suspect is red flagged. Use your intuition. Never ship to children. It's moral and pragmatic both.

19. To prevent visual inspection, a bubble mailer is preferable over a plain paper mailer. You can use slices of cardboard to prevent amateur tactile interception practices like this e.g. to prevent the postal inspector feeling pill or powder shapes.

20. I wish it went without saying, but never ever smoke weed while packaging. You'll have to relieve any stress another way. The majority of dogs probably alert on packages which have drug odor particulate on the *outside* of vaccum packed items, not on the contents inside.

21. Christmas is like SR's own annual version of Operation Pangaea, only in reverse! ;)


For some types of products, like cocaine or weed going on a long journey enclosed in a hot environment such as a van or cargo hold, cooling or even freezing the package might not be a bad idea.

The one thing that is very difficult to obfuscate is drug forensic analysis. Each batch of product has a unique 'isotope' as it were, just like how you can trace a piece of uranium back to the specific mine and shaft that it was extracted from. That, I leave to your imagination, but it's worth thinking about.

Much of this advice, how far you go, depends on the quantity of packages you send and where they are going. For domestic to domestic some of this sounds like overkill. It is perfectly possible for a single vendor to ship product by the metric ton via the postal system and have the same profile as the stump who ships 10 packages but doesn't have a clue about tradecraft. This list is non-exhaustive, do your own research and come to your own conclusions. In particular, examine the case studies of those who are intercepted for clues, examine leaked information and that rare but highly useful theoretical black market research such as PolyFront. 90% of all intelligence is OSINT or open source, so Google (and an anonymizer!) is your friend.

tldr; priority or not priority is a question that can only be answered by looking at the picture holistically.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: samesamebutdifferent on April 27, 2013, 02:22 am
You are an wonderful asset to the SR community pine

Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: pine on April 27, 2013, 02:54 am
You are an wonderful asset to the SR community pine


Added to sig :)
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: scout on April 27, 2013, 03:04 am
Yet another fantastic post of yours, pine. 
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: ProudCannabian on April 30, 2013, 08:03 pm
Shhhhh Moonbear.
Your trolling is obvious.

I think Pine is right about the volume aspect.  BEST shipping times are holidays, because there is a shit ton of mail that the post office feels obligated to deliver on time. (X-Mas, Easter, Ramadan, etc.)
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: divincomp on June 17, 2013, 12:53 pm
really insightful! thanks a lot
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: morphjow on June 18, 2013, 09:05 am
Pine, you're a legend. As a newbie I've been browsing the forums for a few weeks and whenever I see your posts I know I'm about to obtain some much need knowledge.  :) Thanks so much.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: CHIU on July 01, 2013, 10:54 pm
That is a profound understanding of the shipment process. Thanks a lot for sharing.

I think it should be part of the vendor's guide.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: donatto on July 09, 2013, 02:45 pm
For god's sake, what a post, thanks a lot pine.
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: chemicalallstars on September 20, 2013, 04:01 pm
Amazing thankyou!
Title: Re: not priority, priority
Post by: jetskikiller on September 21, 2013, 03:43 pm
Excellent Information Pine, thanks :)