In Case You Missed It: Federal Agencies Failing to Comply with STOP Act

Law Deemed Crucial for Blocking Deadly Synthetic Opioids Left Unimplemented and Unenforced by CBP, USPS

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 5, 2019) – This week, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE) sent a letter sharply criticizing federal agencies for failing to meet deadlines in implementing the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, a law passed last year to close a loophole in the international postal system and cut off the supply chain of deadly foreign opioids. The senators, who lead the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, note that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has failed to meet security requirements set under the STOP Act, and request regular briefings from both the USPS and Customs and Border Protection on progress in implementing the law.

Lawmakers, President Trump and security experts agree that comprehensive advance electronic data (AED), which law enforcement uses to screen and stop illegal opioid shipments, is needed on all inbound international packages to cut off the flow of drugs and dangerous shipments from abroad. The STOP Act required USPS to provide AED on 100 percent of packages from China and 70 percent of international packages overall by the end of 2018. However, in January 2019 the  “USPS only obtained data on 76 percent of packages shipped from China and only 57 percent of data on packages from all foreign posts,” as Senators Portman and Carper note.

“The STOP Act passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress and with the strong support of the president and the American people. But that means nothing if our federal agencies aren’t following the law, and leaves our law enforcement unable to effectively keep deadly drugs out of the country,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. “It’s absolutely urgent that CBP, USPS and all relevant federal agencies meet their obligations under the STOP Act and comply with the clearly outlined AED requirements. We’re grateful to Senator Portman and Senator Carper for holding our agencies accountable and fighting to ensure the postal drug pipeline is closed once and for all.”

The senators write in their letter:

We know how opioids are getting into this country and we know where the drugs are coming from.  Efficient, effective, and secure operations at the major mail facilities that process inbound international mail are critical in stemming the flow of this poison.  The Subcommittee will continue regular oversight on your agencies’ efforts to address the many vulnerabilities highlighted in the OIG reports as well as your agencies’ compliance with the reporting requirements outlined in the STOP Act.  With that in mind, we request regular briefings and updates on the specific and detailed efforts your agencies must immediately implement to address these unacceptable vulnerabilities.  These briefings should also include the plan to comply with STOP Act’s requirement to refuse any shipments without the required advance electronic data received after December 31, 2020.

The full letter from Senators Portman and Carper can be read here.