In Case You Missed It: After Missing Key Deadlines, Editorial Boards Urge USPS to Follow STOP Act to Curb Rising Fentanyl Deaths

WASHINGTON (April 23, 2019) – Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24, marks a key deadline for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Postal Service to report to Congress whether the STOP Act’s requirement of advance electronic data (AED) on all inbound international packages is being met. This is potentially the second deadline the agencies will miss to provide Congress with a status report on the implementation progress. With few details about the law’s compliance public, there is no indication the agencies will meet tomorrow’s deadline. However, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are expected to address the growing fentanyl crisis at the NCAD’s Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit that same day.

Signed into law as part of a broader legislative package to combat the opioid crisis, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act mandates the U.S. Postal Service receive AED on 100 percent of packages shipped from China and 70 percent of all inbound international packages by December 2018, allowing customs officials to screen and stop packages containing hazardous materials – including fentanyl – more effectively.

Six months after the STOP Act’s enactment, rising fentanyl overdose deaths contribute to growing public pressure to close the global postal loophole. On Friday, April 18, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade editorial boards each published editorials calling on the U.S. Postal Service to enforce the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act to curb the flow of deadly fentanyl into the United States. Excerpts from the editorials are below. The full Toledo Blade piece is HERE and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece is HERE.

The synthetic opioid, 50 times more powerful than heroin, often finds its way to America’s streets from China via a surprising route — it is delivered unwittingly by USPS mail carriers. This happens because unlike private package-carrier companies like FedEx and UPS, the postal service was not required until last year to track international packages from their source with data including names, addresses and package contents.”

The database of that information helps Customs and Border Patrol agents intercept packages filled with deadly drugs. Because of this, international drug smugglers have made the USPS their carrier of choice, says Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio). His Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act was signed into law last year. It requires the USPS to begin using the same tracking technology that will help law enforcement stop packages full of synthetic drugs before they reach buyers in Ohio and elsewhere.”

“The USPS should find new enthusiasm for the STOP Act’s requirements. If not, the Senate ought to consider an amendment to the law that includes stiff penalties for the officials who fail to do their part to stop the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.”