What is Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP)?

Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is a coalition of families, health care advocates, security experts, businesses and nonprofits who believe it is time to ensure that all packages are properly screened using advance electronic data so U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities have the tools needed to keep the country safe. Until then, our communities remain vulnerable to foreign attacks and toxic drugs.

What is Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) working to do?

With the rise of e-commerce, it is easier than ever to get goods from foreign countries with just the click of a button. We want to make sure that the foreign postal systems across the globe are playing by our security rules when shipping packages that are delivered into our communities by the U.S. Postal Service. We are asking Congress and the U.S. government to close an outdated policy loophole by requiring these foreign postal services to submit customs and advance electronic security data on packages shipped into the United States. A major step toward this goal is successfully implementing the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act. By closing this hole in our nation’s security system, we can help stop illegal substances before they end up in our communities, and keep Americans safer from terrorists and other bad actors.

What is the loophole that needs to be closed?

While private package express carriers, such as UPS and FedEx, provide the necessary electronic data on packages for screening by U.S. authorities, foreign postal services shipping into the U.S. have not been required to include AED. Under the STOP Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other appropriate federal agencies will be able to end this security gap by obtaining advance electronic security data on ALL packages entering the United States, so the authorities can effectively screen for and seize dangerous and illegal shipments.

What is advance electronic security data?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, the National Targeting Center and dozens of other U.S. agencies depend on this electronic data on packages to perform their enforcement duties and keep us safe from foreign bad actors. For each package mailed to the U.S., this data includes the shipper name and address, consignee name and address, cargo description, weight, and piece count.

When an agency’s analysis shows information that a package may be high risk, packages receive additional physical screenings before they leave their U.S. port of entry.

Advance electronic security data is important because the volume of packages imported through foreign postal services is so massive – over 1.3 million daily – that it is impossible for authorities to screen every package physically one-by-one. The advance electronic data manifests enable intelligence and security officials to target high-risk packages and stop them before they leave the first entry point into the United States.

How many packages enter the U.S. without advance security screenings?

A bipartisan report from the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that the U.S. Postal Service delivered 498,268,405 foreign packages in one year. Of these, only 36 percent included AED, and the PSI investigators concluded that the limited AED provided was too low-quality to be useful to law enforcement, meaning a shocking 1.3 million unscreened and potentially dangerous packages enter the country each day.

What are the risks from intelligence and law enforcement agencies missing electronic data from some shipments?

Over ninety percent of all inbound packages to the U.S. are coming from foreign postal services without the essential data that law enforcement officials need. As we work to keep America safe from national security threats, this loophole leaves our communities and families vulnerable to terrorists and other bad actors shipping dangerous material into the U.S. This gaping hole creates an easy path for children, addicts and others to order deadly illegal drugs like fentanyl from abroad online, fueling the national opioid epidemic.

Have foreign bad actors ever taken advantage of this loophole to bring toxic or dangerous contraband into the U.S.?

Alarmingly, yes. In a recent audit by LegitScript, a firm that specializes in finding and shutting down illegally-operated online pharmacies, 100 percent of illegal online pharmaceutical purchases shipped from foreign countries came in through foreign postal services, and zero percent of the test shipments were seized. Furthermore, a 2018 bipartisan report from the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that online foreign drug traffickers recommend using the postal service to avoid detection and interdiction.

Yet in October 2010, using the very same type of intelligence that the ASAP coalition is asking all foreign packages to submit, authorities intercepted two U.S.-bound packages from Yemen containing bombs capable of bringing down the aircraft. According to the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP), experts believed that the bombs which X-rays failed to detect were designed by Al Qaeda to detonate in mid-air over Chicago, Illinois. While the security gap between private express carriers and foreign postal services was evident then, it still exists today for packages imported from foreign postal services.

Doesn’t the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) already screen every package before it enters the United States?

With the massive volume of packages sent through foreign postal services, it’s impossible to screen every package physically one-by-one. It would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. CBP requires AED to effectively screen every package for dangerous material. That’s why ASAP is asking for advance electronic data manifests for all packages, so intelligence and security officials can target high-risk packages and stop them before they leave the first entry point into the United States.

Currently, packages shipped by private carriers are screened by CBP and other federal agencies using advance electronic data obtained about each package before the U.S.-destined package even leaves the ground abroad.

Why hasn’t this security loophole been closed?

Under the Trade Act of 2002, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Postmaster General to issue regulations by which Customs and Border Protection would receive advance electronic data on ALL packages entering the United States. The program was later bolstered by the implementation of the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) system that specifically targets dangerous goods, and the private sector quickly conformed by submitting electronic data to U.S. authorities on packages delivered from foreign countries.

But for over 15 years, the regulations to include packages shipped via foreign postal services were not issued. Without data, Customs and Border Protection and other government security agencies responsible for keeping Americans safe cannot target and screen out high-risk items before they reach the U.S. Furthermore, foreign postal services have not offered to implement this important security tool for keeping dangerous items out of our country.

The STOP Act, which passed in 2018, will help close the loophole by providing Customs and Border Protection with the AED they need on all international packages, but the bill must be speedily and accurately implemented in order to start making a difference.

How often do carriers provide advance security information during the shipping process?

According to an audit by Copenhagen Economics, private express carriers submitted 98 percent of their customs declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, while foreign posts were unable to verify whether any data had been submitted.

Why are health organizations a part of Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP)?

Because of the security loophole, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement do not receive the advance electronic data to track packages delivered from foreign postal services – including opioids and counterfeit drugs that are purchased online. Illegal pharmaceuticals are unregulated and unpredictable. Some may include inadequate amounts of the necessary ingredients or none at all; others include deadly toxins and chemicals. Even worse, synthetic recreational drugs, which can be fatal even in small volumes, are given an easy and undetected route into the United States.

By creating an easy path for children and others to go online and access deadly illegal drugs like fentanyl from abroad, this security loophole is helping to fuel the national opioid epidemic.

What can be done to fix this security loophole?

The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Protection (STOP) Act, which mandates advance electronic data on all foreign packages, passed in both chambers of Congress by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities, and has been signed into law by President Trump. In addition to the majority of Congress, the bill was supported by national organizations such as the American Medical Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Congress, the president, and all relevant federal agencies must now ensure that the deadlines outlined in the STOP Act are met and the law is implemented as written to help keep Americans safe.