ASAP Calls on Centers for Disease Control to Investigate Number of Deaths Caused by Opioids Illegally Shipped Into the U.S.

As America’s opioid crisis intensifies, coalition calls for data and accountability on how deadly drugs are entering the U.S.

Washington, D.C. – As opioid-related deaths surge nationwide, Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is calling on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promptly investigate the number of deaths caused by synthetic, counterfeit and illegal opioids shipped from foreign posts into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service. According to the Department of Homeland Security, approximately 340 million packages are shipped to the U.S. each year without advance security data that would allow law enforcement to identify packages containing hazardous materials, including deadly drugs.

The CDC recently reported that 73 percent of all drugs overdose deaths in 2015 were caused by opioids, including oxycodone and illicit synthetics like fentanyl, surpassing the number of Americans killed by gun-violence for first time in U.S. history. The percentage of deaths involving synthetic opioids is rapidly growing as well. According to CDC data, the death rate of synthetic opioids other than methadone increased 72 percent in just one year, an increase the CDC states is likely driven by illicitly-manufactured fentanyl.

The dark web has made it easier than ever to order deadly drugs with just the click of a mouse, and in recent months, overdoses caused by opioids purchased online – including the deaths of two thirteen-year-old boys in Park City, Utah – have appeared in local and national headlines. Despite these troubling reports, as it currently stands there is no way to quantify the amount of drugs trafficked through the global postal system. Without any data on how this loophole fuels opioid addictions and deaths, public health officials’ abilities to assess and stop the risks are compromised, and the extent of the threat to Americans’ health and safety remains unknown.

“Countless reports tell us opioids are coming through the U.S. Postal Service from China, and people are dying,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, senior advisor to ASAP. “We are in the midst of a public health crisis. We need to close the pipeline that’s allowing fentanyl and carfentanil to enter our country through the mail. The CDC should report these numbers so we can better understand how the loophole is contributing to this devastating epidemic.”

“We already know opioids are ripping families and communities apart,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to ASAP. “But how many deaths could we prevent if we made the global postal system more secure?  Let’s get the hard data so we can fully understand the severity of the crisis and put a stop to it before any more tragedies occur.”

Members of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce are asking similar questions. In a recent letter to the head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the committee urged the Trump Administration to release critical data on America’s deadly fentanyl crisis and posed important questions regarding the role of the U.S. Postal Service in helping to fuel America’s opioid epidemic.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has taken initial steps to address this vulnerability. Senators Portman (R-OH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL) and Hassan (D-NH) recently reintroduced the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which would require electronic security data on all packages shipped from foreign posts. On the same day, bipartisan members of Congress reintroduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives. Additionally, President Trump acknowledged the loophole during a campaign speech in New Hampshire, where he stated his administration would “crack down on the abuse of the loopholes in the Postal Service to literally mail fentanyl and other drugs to users and dealers in the United States.”

About Americans for Securing All Packages
Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is a bipartisan coalition composed of health care advocates, national security experts, businesses and nonprofits who believe it is time for the U.S. government to take action and ensure that all packages being shipped to the United States from any foreign postal service are adequately screened before arriving on the doorsteps of unsuspecting Americans.