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In Case You Missed It: To Stem America’s Opioid Crisis, USPS Must Return Chinese Packages Missing Key Security Data

Paul Steidler of the Lexington Institute – an ASAP coalition member – penned an op-ed to the Daily Caller urging President Trump to order the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to refuse packages from China missing advance electronic data (AED), as required by the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act passed last year. This basic security information would allow customs officials to screen international packages more effectively and curb the flow of illicit opioids into the U.S from abroad.

The STOP Act was passed with broad bipartisan support, but key deadlines are still unmet, putting Americans at risk. By the end of 2018, foreign posts were required to provide the U.S. Postal Service AED on 100 percent of packages from China and 70 percent of packages overall, but nearly nine months later, these benchmarks are still unmet. Even the required reports on compliance and implementation of the law were late to Congress. These shortfalls are allowing a major opioid pipeline to remain. The law already requires the Postal Service to refuse any shipments without AED that arrive after Dec. 31, 2020. Why must we wait until then to stop this pipeline? Why can’t the President direct the U.S. Postal Service to deny entry now to shipments from the worst foreign offenders?

In “The President Is Right — China’s Fentanyl Is Killing Too Many Americans,” Steidler argues “special focus should be given to severing opioid shipments that come from China Post, China’s postal service and a government entity, through which most fentanyl and illicit opioids flow.” Key excerpts from the piece are below and the full text is HERE.  

China has become the worldwide manufacturing hub of opioids, and with that has arisen criminal businesses that export fentanyl and other deadly narcotics to the United States. These businesses are sophisticated and slick: they operate through well-designed websites that include online chats, negotiate for bulk purchases, take bitcoin payments and even specify shipping preferences.

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This is because since 2002, private express carriers can only accept packages that have advanced electronic data (AED) tracking information. With AED and advanced data analytics, suspicious packages are much more likely to be identified and seized.

In October 2018, the president signed the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act requiring that all inbound mail and packages from China have AED by Jan. 1, 2019. Yet, the law is currently in a weird no man’s land, with no penalty imposed for non-AED packages.

This means that special focus should be given to severing opioid shipments that come from China Post, China’s postal service and a government entity, through which most fentanyl and illicit opioids flow. The president should concentrate his future firepower on China Post. The Chinese delivery service is the aorta for fentanyl shipments to the U.S. and it must be clamped.

The president should order the Postal Service to return to China any packages that do not have electronic tracking. While the Postal Service appears hesitant to do this because of concerns about interruptions in legitimate commerce and potential retaliatory action from China, the president will show boldness and resolve by taking such action.