During Holiday Rush, A Loophole in the Global Postal Service Leaves Americans Vulnerable to Deadly Drugs and Hazardous Materials

WASHINGTON – For most Americans, the holiday season marks a time of cheer, festivities, family and giving. For online retailers and foreign manufacturers, it’s also one of the busiest times of year. As more Americans choose to purchase their gifts online, postal workers are working hard to process the influx of packages entering the U.S. from abroad. Meanwhile, a dangerous vulnerability in the global postal system poses significant risks to postal workers, American consumers and law enforcement officials alike.

Each year, more than 340 million packages are shipped into the U.S. through the USPS without advance electronic security data that would allow law enforcement to screen and stop deadly drugs, counterfeit goods and hazardous materials. Despite the holiday mail surge, postal workers and law enforcement officials are still left to identify high-risk packages at random – a process that has proven ineffective – rather than use the same electronic data private carriers provide to screen high-risk parcels.

In September, the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General issued an alert stating that because of the current security screening process, a “significant risk exists to the U.S. through the mail importation of illicit goods, narcotics, and the possibility of radioactive materials that could pose a threat to national security,” and that this risk could “affect employees, public safety, and security.”

Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is committed to closing the loophole in the global postal system to keep Americans safe. The increased health and safety risks posed to postal workers and law enforcement during the holiday season underscores the need for immediate action.

“Congress passed legislation to help communities deal with the consequences of the opioid crisis, but has yet to pass the STOP Act to help stem the importation of these dangerous substances in the first place,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, senior advisor to ASAP.  “The President-Elect has committed to closing the foreign postal loophole, so immediate passage of the STOP Act could be a quick win for bipartisan action by the new Congress and Administration. The STOP Act is border security legislation on which Republicans and Democrats can agree.”

“The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, but a dangerous loophole in the global postal system puts that joy at risk,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to ASAP. “The sheer volume of packages shipped during the holidays without vital security data makes it nearly impossible for law enforcement to effectively monitor packages shipped from abroad. We need to close the pipeline that allows hazardous materials into the United States to protect American families during the holiday season and beyond.”

The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act requires mail shipped by foreign postal services to include the electronic security data that allows law enforcement to screen and stop packages containing dangerous materials, including deadly, synthetic drugs. The bill was introduced in September 2016 by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). One week later, Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) introduced identical bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives.

President-elect Trump also acknowledged the importance of closing the postal loophole in a speech in New Hampshire and stated that 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.

Learn more about ASAP by visiting SecurePackages.org or following @SecurePackages on Twitter.