Americans for Securing All Packages Urges Customs and Border Protection Commissioner to Address Urgent Need for Comprehensive Security Data to Stop Deadly Foreign Opioid Shipments

In Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan’s testimony last week before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, he gave his vision for the future of the agency and spoke on the importance of keeping dangerous synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, from entering the country. However, while Commissioner McAleenan rightly noted the importance of advance electronic data (AED) – security information that is vital for law enforcement to effectively screen packages and stop dangerous material from entering the country – he failed to acknowledge the gaping holes in his agency’s ability to receive this data from the U.S. Postal Service. As he implements his vision for CBP, Commissioner McAleenan must address these vulnerabilities by backing legislative efforts that would require the comprehensive data on all packages needed to keep American communities safe.

Unlike private carriers, the postal service fails to require AED on all foreign shipments, creating a pipeline for international traffickers and criminals to send synthetic opioids through the mail undetected. This loophole persists despite concrete evidence of the effectiveness of AED. Commissioner McAleenan noted how a limited pilot program with the postal service has already allowed CBP to interdict 186 fentanyl shipments at JFK Airport in FY 2018. But pilot programs alone are not sufficient to address the massive number of foreign packages entering the country every day.

However, there is a legislative solution that McAleenan can support: the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act. The bill would require all packages shipped from abroad through the U.S. Postal Service to include AED. The bill has wide, bipartisan support, with over 260 cosponsors in the House and 32 in the Senate.

On the same day as Commissioner McAleenan’s testimony, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade held a hearing on the need to stop synthetic opioids from entering the U.S. through the postal system. Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI) discussed the STOP Act at the hearing, explaining that the bill would “enable our respective agencies to better target potentially illegal packages and keep these dangerous drugs from ending up in the hands of drug traffickers who would harm local communities and our children.”

“We are grateful for the extraordinary efforts of the men and women of the CBP to keep our country safe and keep dangerous drugs out,” said Governor Tom Ridge, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “Congress has a responsibility to give these officers all of the tools they need to safely complete their job, including AED. It is time to move beyond pilot programs and pass the STOP Act, so we have a 21st century fix for the postal opioid pipeline.”

“AED is a proven tool for helping our law enforcement prevent drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from reaching American families and children,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “I urge Commissioner McAleenan to join President Trump, the president’s opioid commission and almost 300 members of Congress in supporting the STOP Act. There is no excuse for delay – Congress must pass this bill and ensure comprehensive AED is on all foreign packages.”

A recent report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) also highlighted the urgent need to pass the STOP Act and ensure comprehensive security data. The report found that the United States Postal Service delivers nearly a half billion packages in one year from abroad, but only 36 percent include AED – and the limited AED provided is too low quality to be useful. The STOP Act is also endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the American Medical Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.