Package Bombs Pose Threats to Life and Logistics

The Texas bombings serve as a deadly reminder that weaponized packages pose daunting security challenges for shipping, tracking, and courier delivery services.

News that so-called serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt blew himself up in a car as a SWAT team approached him in the Austin, TX, suburb of Round Rock may provide some resolution to the recent package bombing spree, but it brings about challenging questions, and not just for law enforcement.

That much was clear in the March 20, 2018 WSJ.com story, “Texas Bombs Show FedEx, UPS Face Tough Task Preventing Attacks,” where author Paul Ziobro noted, “Millions of packages pass through FedEx and UPS facilities on a typical day, making it hard to prevent the type of explosion that rocked a FedEx Corp. sorting center in Texas early Tuesday.”

On the same day, FedEx made the following statement on its website: “FedEx has confirmed that a package detonated at a San Antonio FedEx Ground facility early this morning. We have also confirmed that the individual responsible also shipped a second package that has now been secured and turned over to law enforcement. We are thankful that there were no serious injuries from this criminal activity. We have provided law enforcement responsible for this investigation extensive evidence related to these packages and the individual that shipped them collected from our advanced technology security systems. The safety and security measures in place across the FedEx networks are designed to protect the safety of our people, customers and communities, and to assist law enforcement as appropriate.”

The WSJ.com article said that between UPS and FedEx, about 32 million pieces are handled a day, which “makes screening each package for explosives or other hazardous or illegal materials impractical, industry consultants said.”

At a time when E-commerce sales will grow anywhere between 8% and 16% in the next several years, according to recent estimates, the security challenges become ever greater for package shipping, tracking, and courier delivery services.

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