Time to get tough with China — on fentanyl

AUGUST 11, 2018

By Dave Aronberg

Most fentanyl on America’s streets is illicitly manufactured in Chinese laboratories and often smuggled into the U.S. by Mexican cartels using established networks for heroin and methamphetamine. Chinese suppliers also rely on an unwitting drug runner to export their poison: the United States Postal Service.

Unlike private companies such as UPS or FedEx, the Postal Service is not required by law to get advance electronic data, such as the names and addresses of the sender, to help identify and intercept drug parcels. To close this loophole, the U.S. Senate needs to pass the Synthetic Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, already approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, which would require the Postal Service to maintain the same security standards as private carriers.

Read More >

We can't fight our opioid crisis alone. We need help from countries around the world.

AUGUST 2, 2018

By Liz Schrayer

As America works to curb production overseas, we must also crack down on the transportation routes for fentanyl. This means applying additional U.S. diplomatic pressure to help secure international mail and stop trafficking through postal packages. In spite of the danger, postal services around the world are bound by international agreements to deliver each other’s packages within their countries, even without knowing the contents of those packages in advance. With advanced electronic data and analytics of packages, officials can identify suspicious patterns and better target their searches. Currently, we receive these data for 40 to 50 percent of packages entering our country — it is simply not enough.

The House has passed legislation to mandate that electronic data be provided in advance on all packages — an effort championed by leaders such as Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul — and Sens. Rob Portman, Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch are shepherding this legislation through the Senate. But since partner countries must provide the data, congressional action must be backed up by sustained engagement from the State Department to ensure that countries cooperate.

Read More >

Senate Bickering Will Aid Opioid Pushers

JULY 30, 2018

By Paul Steidler

The U.S. Senate has an opportunity to enact a common sense, bipartisan measure that will cut the supply of deadly opioids entering America. And it should do so before it embroils itself over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

For years, law enforcement agencies, public health officials and others have warned that large amounts of Chinese opioids are flooding into the country via international mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The Fraternal Order of Police, the Homeland Security Department and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration are among those making clarion calls.

In 2016, the latest year for available statistics, more than 42,000 dies of opioids. This is 116 people a day and a 27 percent increase from 33,000 in 2015. Experts predict the figures will continue to rise.

Read More >

Closing the postal drug pipeline would aid opioid fight

JULY 28, 2018

By Tom Ridge

It’s a story this paper has had to write time and time again: the Hudson Valley is deep in the grips of the opioid crisis. Nearly every week we see the tragic headlines of another neighbor whose life was taken too soon, or a drug dealer caught with inconceivably potent narcotics. Just a few weeks ago, the New York attorney general announced a drug bust of more than a dozen people trafficking fentanyl between New York City and Albany County. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, the most potent synthetic opioids – commonly manufactured in foreign countries – are clearly still finding a way into the region. This is in large part thanks to a loophole in the global postal system, which drug traffickers exploit daily to ship fentanyl directly into our communities.

Every day over a million packages enter our country without advance electronic data (AED), security information that allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other law enforcement agencies to screen and identify high-risk shipments, including opioids. While private carriers are required to include this data, AED is not mandated on packages sent via the global post and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). There are simply too many inbound packages coming in through the international postal system for CBP to effectively screen for dangerous and illegal goods without AED, regardless of how many officers and dogs they use, or how advanced their scanning devices are. This leaves law enforcement unequipped to stop fentanyl before it reaches the doorsteps of families in New York and across the country.

Read More >

Closing a postal loophole in fight against opioids

JULY 17, 2018

By Tom Ridge

Perhaps most shocking is that federal officials are aware of a major source for foreign fentanyl to enter the country. A loophole in the global postal system has allowed drug traffickers to easily ship opioids undetected for over a decade. Under current law, international packages sent via private carriers must include advance electronic data, or AED, which is used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to screen the massive number of inbound shipments for dangerous material.

Packages sent through foreign posts and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, however, do not include this data, leaving CBP and other law enforcement agencies ill-equipped to detect fentanyl in over 1.3 million packages entering the country each day. Drug smugglers have seized on this loophole to make a profit – according to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, online foreign drug dealers recommend shipping opioids through the postal service to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Read More >

Letter to the Editor: Feds must help

JULY 15, 2018

By Paul Steidler

It is well documented that large amounts of opioids enter the U.S. from China via international mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The solution is to have advanced electronic data (AED) on all inbound mail so it can be better tracked and searched. AED technology has been in use, especially among private shippers, for 15 years.

On June 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The STOP Act, a measure that requires this, by 353-52. In the Senate, the proposal has 34 co-sponsors including Elizabeth Warren, Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham. And the White House has endorsed it. This is common sense, bipartisan legislation that will save lives and the Senate should vote on it before its August recess.

Read More >

Combatting the influx of fentanyl

JULY 13, 2018

By Sen. Rob Portman

According to a recent report, last year Customs and Border Protection seized about 1,500 pounds of fentanyl. In just the first five months of 2018 they seized more than 1,000 pounds, on pace to far surpass last year’s totals. One thousand pounds of fentanyl is enough to kill about a quarter-billion people. That’s only the drugs that were seized, not what makes it into the U.S. undetected. Without providing the data law enforcement need to identify suspicious packages, identifying parcels containing fentanyl is like finding a needle in a haystack.

The Postal Service handles more than four times more international packages per year than UPS, FedEx, and DHL combined. That’s why the STOP Act is so important. It will require the Postal Service to get this data for all packages entering the U.S. By closing the loophole in our mail screening and holding the Postal Service to the same standard as private carriers, we can give law enforcement the tools to keep these dangerous synthetic drugs out of our communities.

Read More >

Congress taking action to combat the growing influx of fentanyl

JUNE 29, 2018

By Sen. Rob Portman

According to a recent report, last year Customs and Border Protection seized about 1,500 pounds of fentanyl. In just the first five months of 2018 they seized more than 1,000 pounds, on pace to far surpass last year’s totals. One thousand pounds of fentanyl is enough to kill about a quarter-billion people. That’s only the drugs that were seized, not what makes it into the U.S. undetected. Without providing the data law enforcement need to identify suspicious packages, identifying parcels containing fentanyl is like finding a needle in a haystack.

The Postal Service handles more than four times more international packages per year than UPS, FedEx, and DHL combined. That’s why the STOP Act is so important. It will require the Postal Service to get this data for all packages entering the U.S. By closing the loophole in our mail screening and holding the Postal Service to the same standard as private carriers, we can give law enforcement the tools to keep these dangerous synthetic drugs out of our communities.

Read More >

How to stop the opioid crisis

JUNE 24, 2018

By Tom Ridge

A solution like the STOP Act is long overdue. The bill is backed by groups who know the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic far too well, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the American Medical Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Now that the House has passed the bill, we expect the Senate to vote to send this critical legislation to the president’s desk soon. This progress comes thanks to the tireless work of congressional leaders from both parties. Rep. Bishop’s leadership on the House Ways and Means Committee helped ensure the legislation is effective and gives CBP the comprehensive tools it needs to keep toxic drugs out of Michigan neighborhoods.

Efforts at treatment and prevention, no matter how well-meaning, won’t be effective if we can’t keep the deadliest drugs out of American homes in the first place. Passing the STOP Act is one step of many needed to fight the opioid crisis. And by closing the postal loophole, we may finally be able to do just that.

Read More >

Vote on STOP act: Give U.S. Postal Service tools to track fentanyl

JUNE 19, 2018

By the Editorial Board

Opioids are ravaging southwestern Pennsylvania and other parts of the nation, and the primary source of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, and its ingredients, is China. To get the drug to Pennsylvania and other parts of the United States, Chinese suppliers rely largely on the U.S. Postal Service.

As a congressional investigation revealed early this year, USPS is the drug dealers’ shipper of choice because, unlike private companies such as UPS or FedEx, the postal service is not required by law to use an advanced electronic data-tracking system, called Advanced Electronic Data or AED, that helps authorities discover and intercept parcels carrying illicit drugs.

Read More >

STOP fentanyl delivery

JUNE 18, 2018

By the Editorial Board

The synthetic opioid fentanyl is now killing more Ohioans than heroin or other prescription painkillers. Ohio’s overdose death toll in 2016 — more than 4,000 — ranked second in the nation. More than half of those deaths were attributable to fentanyl, authorities say. The drug — more than 50 times as powerful as heroin — is a scourge heaped on top of the drug addiction epidemic already gripping the country.

To get the drug to Ohio and other parts of the United States, Chinese suppliers rely on one shipping partner — the United States Postal Service. As a Congressional investigation revealed last year, USPS is the drug dealers’ shipper of choice because, unlike private companies such as UPS or FedEx, the postal service is not required by law to use an advanced electronic data-tracking system that helps authorities discover and intercept parcels carrying illicit drugs.

Read More >

We want to stop the spread of fentanyl

JUNE 16, 2018

By Rob Portman and Mike Bishop

Synthetic forms of heroin have flooded Midwestern communities and taken lives at unprecedented and tragic rates. We now have an opportunity to make significant progress to help combat the influx of fentanyl — the deadliest killer in this crisis.

This week, the House of Representatives passed the STOP Act, a bipartisan bill we authored that will help keep more synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the U.S., and a Senate committee approved the bill, moving it to the Senate floor where we hope it will soon have a vote. We need the STOP Act because fentanyl has invaded our communities and is increasingly robbing people of their God-given potential and taking lives.

Read More >

Opioids come from China in the U.S. mail. Here’s how to stop it.

JUNE 15, 2018

By the Editorial Board

Like all drug scourges, the fentanyl epidemic that claims so many lives every day is a matter of supply and demand. The demand, alas, is made in America. The supply, by contrast, is overwhelmingly imported, with a key source being China, where a poorly regulated cottage industry makes the stuff, takes orders over the Internet and ships it via international mail to the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Increased prevention and treatment efforts can curb demand; but it’s going to take more enforcement to disrupt the supply chain. That’s much easier said than done, and would be even if China’s regulatory system were not fragmented and corrupt. Still, authorities on the U.S. side could benefit from a more sophisticated set of tools, which brings us to the good news from Capitol Hill. Yes, good news: Bipartisan legislation that is designed to plug a legal loophole that fentanyl traffickers have exploited for too long is moving toward passage.

Read More >

House OKs bill requiring electronic data on foreign packages to help fight opioid crisis

JUNE 14, 2018

By Tom Howell Jr.

The House approved a bill Thursday to give the government a better chance to weed opioids such as deadly fentanyl out of mail coming in from overseas, taking more concrete action to try to halt the epidemic of dangerous drugs. The bill, approved on a 353-22 vote, requires foreign shippers to submit electronic data about their packages in advance of sending them through the U.S. Postal Service.

Read More >

Lawmakers reach deal on bill to crack down on synthetic opioid imports

JUNE 8, 2018

By Peter Sullivan

Members of both parties and both chambers on Friday announced a deal on a bill aimed at cracking down on imports of powerful synthetic opioids from overseas.

The new version of the bill, known as the STOP Act, would require the Postal Service to obtain electronic data on international mail shipments, which can be used to target suspicious packages for inspection.

Read More >

House, Senate reach deal on bill to thwart opioids in mail

JUNE 8, 2018

By Tom Howell Jr.

The House Ways and Means Committee said bipartisan negotiations produced a bill that requires the postal service to submit advanced data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on 70 percent of packages by the end of this year and every package by the end of 2020 — a more aggressive timeline than the House bill’s push for 95-percent compliance by 2022. It requires the U.S. Postal Service to reject packages that don’t contain the data. It will face civil penalties if it accepts them.

Private carriers such as FedEx already submit electronic data on foreign parcels before they arrive at U.S. ports, yet only a portion of foreign posts provide it to the U.S. mail system. Customs agents say the data is a key tool in targeting suspicious packages that may contain fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far more powerful than heroin and can kill in tiny amounts.

Read More >

Deadly Delivery: Opioids By Mail

MAY 24, 2018

By Brian Naylor

In Congress, lawmakers are trying to make it harder to buy fentanyl, in part by forcing the U.S. Postal Service to make it more difficult to send narcotics through the mail. But the measure has been languishing.

It’s not clear how many shipments of fentanyl and other narcotics arrive with the mail carrier. But what is clear, says former Department of Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem is: It’s all too easy to get drugs delivered right to your mailbox.

Read More >

How Opioids Are Coming Into The U.S. By Mail And Why It's So Hard To Stop

MAY 23, 2018

By Brian Naylor

Congressional investigators say hundreds of millions of dollars of fentanyl is coming into the U.S. by mail. But why is it so hard to stop?

Read More >

House committee advances opioid bill senators call 'weak'

MAY 16, 2018

By Kimberley Leonard

Senators argue the House version isn’t strong enough because it doesn’t carry any penalties if the Postal Service doesn’t comply. It also would give the agency up to 2022 to full implement the changes, while the Senate requires them within a year. The House provides a waiver if other agencies determine that there is a national security interest” to do so. The bill’s Senate authors, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., blasted the House committee in a statement following the vote, saying the House bill would “perpetuate the status quo rather than help solve the opioid crisis.”

“We are concerned that this weaker alternative would eliminate the real, enforceable, and immediate requirement that the Postal Service provide law enforcement with the information they need to identify and stop the shipment of deadly synthetic drugs into our communities,” they said. “In particular, the STOP Act requires the Postal Service to secure advanced electronic data on 100 percent of the packages entering the United States and transmit that data to Customs and Border Protection.”

Read More >

Get drugs out of the mail

MAY 14, 2018

By Tom Ridge

Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a successful takedown of drug traffickers in Operation Saigon Sunset, dismantling a major criminal network responsible for trafficking drugs from Detroit to Huntington, West Virginia. The investigation was massive, seizing enough fentanyl to kill a quarter-million people. Every American should be grateful for the brave law enforcement agents who took these drugs off our streets, but they should be troubled that toxic synthetic opioids like fentanyl are able to enter Michigan so regularly and easily in the first place. A security gap in the global postal service enables much of this deadly trade, and is helping fuel the opioid epidemic in Michigan and across the country.

Fentanyl, carfentanil and other potent synthetic opioids are commonly manufactured abroad before being shipped into the United States and mixed, sometimes unknowingly, into the drug supply. National security and law enforcement agencies like Customs and Border Protection use basic security information — advance electronic data, or AED — to screen for dangerous material and stop illegal drugs at ports of entry. While AED is required on all foreign packages delivered by private carriers, it is not mandated for packages sent via the global postal network and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. This has left international drug traffickers with easy access to reach American markets.

Read More >

Is your postal carrier an unwitting pusher?

MAY 6, 2018

By Tom Ridge

It may seem surprising that a drug used to tranquilize elephants is now found in Baltimore and around the country. But this is no accident. A gaping hole in the global postal system allows bad actors to easily ship dangerous synthetic opioids found on the dark web to Maryland doorsteps with the click of a mouse.

Because of a postal loophole established in the Trade Act of 2002, over a million packages enter the U.S. every day without important information that law enforcement and Customs and Border Protection rely on to keep our communities safe. According to a new report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), this is having disastrous effects. The report notes that while the United States Postal Service delivers nearly a half billion packages in one year from abroad, only 36 percent of those packages include advance electronic data (AED) that is essential for our law enforcement to identify and stop dangerous packages. And the data included with this 36 percent are too low quality to be useful. Packages shipped by private carriers, such as UPS and FedEx, are mandated to collect AED.

Read More >

Is a loophole in postal service security fueling the opioid crisis?

APRIL 12, 2018

By Sarah-Blake Morgan

According to ASAP, one million packages are shipped into the U.S. every day without Advanced Electronic Security Data, or AED. This information typically describes the contents of the package and is entered by the sender before a package is shipped.

“The STOP ACT says if you send a package to the United States, you have to put this advanced information so we can run it through our algorithm and pick parcels from the Post Office rather than just random selection,” Ridge told WBTV.

Read More >

Opioids enter country via vulnerabilities in postal system

APRIL 9, 2018

By Shelly Ragen

Kayyem said that there are vulnerabilities in our mail that are being taken advantage of and causing great harm in our country. “Our postal system is porous,” she said. “In particular, we don’t require advanced postal screening for [packages] that come from other countries.”

Basically, Kayyem said, advanced screening data is just essentially what you would think a 21st-century postal service would have.

Read More >

Opinion: Shut down the postal drug pipeline

APRIL 1, 2018

By Tom Ridge

According to a shocking new report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), the United States Postal Service in one year delivers nearly a half-billion packages from abroad. Of those, however, only 36 percent include the advance electronic data (AED) that Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies need to stop dangerous material, such as illicit opioids. And the limited AED that the Postal Service does provide was deemed “low-quality” and therefore not useful to law enforcement. While packages shipped through private carriers are required to include this data, a loophole in the global postal network means those shipped via foreign postal services and delivered by the USPS are not. The PSI report found that as a result, foreign drug traffickers favor using the Postal Service to deliver deadly opioids to avoid detection by law enforcement.

The deadly synthetic drugs entering the country through this loophole are the same opioids devastating Virginia communities. Late last year, a Vinton woman was found with four pounds of fentanyl in the largest bust in state history. Fentanyl, identified as commonly shipped into the U.S. from China, is so deadly that even a small grain can cause a fatal overdose.

Read More >

People Are Getting Fentanyl in the Mail, and the Bill That Would Let the Post Office Stop Has Gone Nowhere

MARCH 22, 2018

By Jackie Kucinich

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has endorsed it, President Trump touted its goals during the 2016 campaign, and the two most recent Department of Homeland Security secretaries said they supported it. But a bipartisan bill that would help curb the delivery of the deadly opioid fentanyl by the United States Postal Service to American doorsteps has not seen the light of day, leaving advocates scratching their heads.

In January, Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE) released a report from the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations detailing how the Chinese use the mail to send fentanyl into the United States undetected (PDF). That’s because USPS does not have to follow the same rules as private carriers like UPS and FedEx to have packages screened through advanced electronic data (AED) before entering the United States.

Read More >

Stopping illegal drugs through the U.S. mail could curb opioid crisis: John Faso

MARCH 20, 2018

By Rep. John Faso

Most of the fentanyl and carfentanil found in our communities is produced overseas and shipped across our borders through the U.S. mail. Producers in China and India easily bypass inadequate screening from postal authorities and ship their poison to our communities. After 9/11, the Congress required shippers such as UPS, DHL, and FedEx to have detailed documentation on each package allowing them to screen potentially suspect shippers. However, the U.S. Postal Service – which handles more than four times the packages as these commercial shippers – was not told to require similar documentation.

That’s why I have partnered with my colleague, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, by sponsoring a bill to crack down on illegal shippers sending drugs through the mail from abroad. Our proposal, H.R. 1057, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, will require foreign postal services to send basic tracking data through the United States Postal Service (USPS) to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in advance to flag packages from suspicious addresses and shippers.

Read More >

Make the USPS more secure

FEBRUARY 28, 2018

By Editorial Board

The Postal Service has emerged as the shipper of choice for criminals who serve illegal markets in drugs and identity crime. It needs to take stock and introduce measures that will discourage and identify those using the mails to send contraband.

At the international level, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s proposed law, the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act — or STOP Act — would require advanced electronic data on international packages shipped through the USPS. It has 29 co-sponsors — Republicans and Democrats, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Read More >

Opioid addiction and death mail-ordered to your door

FEBRUARY 22, 2018

By Anthony Zurcher

Where heroin, an agricultural product derived from poppies, mostly entered the US across its southern border from Mexico, the new opioid drugs are most frequently manufactured in Chinese laboratories and, because of their potency, are much easier to transport through the international postal system. The purchasers are sometimes criminal cartels, which then distribute the drugs through a decentralised dealer network scattered across small towns and suburbs throughout the US.

“The only way to tell trends and do investigations is if you have at least semi-reliable data coming from who the sender might be,” says Juliette Kayyem, who served as assistant secretary of homeland security for intergovernmental affairs during the first two years of the Obama administration. “If you begin to put a security apparatus over something, the market will leave that gap.”

Read More >

Inside the dark web: How deadly drugs are being delivered by mail

FEBRUARY 16, 2018

By Kyle Iboshi

The majority of illegal fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. is coming from China. Synthetic opioids are primarily trafficked in small packages through the mail. The increased volume in packages due to e-commerce provides cover for criminals to abuse the system.

In January, a U.S. Senate report detailed vulnerabilities in international mail. The report explained how the U.S. Postal Service should use a bar code on packages with information about the sender, the recipient and what is in the package to help crack down on illegal shipments of drugs.

Read More >

Deadliest drugs smuggled into U.S. the easy way — through the mail

FEBRUARY 12, 2018

By Jerry Mitchell

Unlike express carriers like FedEx and UPS, the Postal Service does not require advance electronic customs data for most of the mail entering the U.S. (Experts say this data consists of the same information that usually appears on the front of a letter — the recipient’s name and address as well as the sender’s name and return address.)

“The market is going to find the loophole, and this is the loophole,” said Kayyem, who serves as a senior adviser for Americans for Securing All Packages, a bipartisan advocacy group pushing for better security screening for parcels entering the United States.

Read More >

Editorial: To catch mass killer, focus on fentanyl shipments

JANUARY 7, 2018

By the USA Today Editorial Board

The Postal Service could more easily spot fentanyl if it had some basic data — who and where the package is coming from and the recipient’s name and address — in advance. That would “aid in targeting shipments,” a top Customs official told a Senate hearing last May. Although a federal law has required private shippers to provide advance electronic data since 2002, the Postal Service’s participation was left up to the postmaster general and leaders of another Cabinet department.  More than 15 years later, the Postal Service still doesn’t demand this advance data from all countries.

Since 2016, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and a bipartisan coalition that has grown to 29 senators and 252 House members have pushed a commonsense measure to require that all countries provide this electronic data. The president’s commission on opioids supports it, too.

Read More >

Experts, lawmakers attempt to close loophole allowing postal delivery of synthetic drugs

JANUARY 1, 2018

By George Myers

In an effort to slow the influx of Fentanyl into the United States, the STOP, or Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention, Act has been put before Congress. A Senate version, along with a companion version in the House of Representatives, was introduced in February.

The legislation would, according to ASAP, require all packages shipped from abroad to contain the same data as packages sent by private couriers. A press release from Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s office also said the bill would enable Customs and Border Protection to “better target potential illegal packages.”

Read More >

Postal loophole allows opioids from abroad to flood into Florida

DECEMBER 20, 2017

By Juliette Kayyem

While Gov. Rick Scott has already declared Florida’s opioid epidemic a public health emergency, our efforts to curb the crisis would likely prove more effective if we took steps to shut down the supply of deadly synthetic drugs from abroad before they ever reach U.S. shores. One commonsense step to cutting off the supply would be to require the use of advance electronic security data on all packages shipped to the United States from abroad so that law enforcement is able to use big data and algorithms to identify suspicious packages.

The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which would do just that by requiring this advance electronic security data for all packages coming into the United States, already has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, the American Medical Association and the National Conference of State Legislators, along with more than 280 Congressional representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle. President Trump and his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis have publicly stated that requiring this data will help provide much needed relief in fighting the opioid epidemic and will provide law enforcement agencies the information they need to identify and stop dangerous packages from entering our country.

Read More >

To win the opioid war, start by closing the mail loophole

DECEMBER 13, 2017

By Norbert Rug

What has to be one of the most exasperating problems with the opioid epidemic, for law enforcement, is that small amounts of drugs up to 100 times stronger than heroin can be sent to the United States via the mail from overseas, primarily China. Users and dealers can purchase these on the Internet and they are delivered by the United States Postal Service without much difficulty.

In his recent declaration of opioid abuse as a national health emergency, President Trump promised to take this issue up with China. Congress and the Postal Service should support him. Opioid overdose deaths shot up to 64,000 in 2016, a more than 17 percent increase from 2015. This is not the time for playing politics or participating in partisanship.

Read More >

Guest Column: Close the postal loophole to stop influx of drugs

DECEMBER 9, 2017

By Tom Ridge

President Donald Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency – a welcome action as the crisis hits states like Colorado harder than ever. In the Centennial State, the introduction of unbelievably potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil has led to a sharp uptick in fatalities. We see tragic stories occurring far too regularly, from the 19 year old Boulder student killed by cocaine laced with fentanyl, to the two deaths from carfentanil in Eagle County this spring.

These powerful synthetic drugs are largely manufactured abroad, and can easily be mailed by traffickers and criminals into the country thanks to a major postal system security gap.

Read More >

'Dance with the devil': Synthetic drugs play increasingly prominent role in Howard County

DECEMBER 3, 2017

By George Myers

Additionally, a federal bill, cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks among others, has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives titled the STOP Act of 2017, or Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act of 2017.

The bill, in an effort to limit the same concerns cited by Donnelly, would “ensure that merchandise arriving through the mail shall be subject to review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and to require the provision of advance electronic information on shipments of mail to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and for other purposes.”

Read More >

Federal Help Needed in Opioid Fight

NOVEMBER 9, 2017

By Paul Steidler

In Congress, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Protection or STOP Act would require seven electronic data information points on international mail. The measure is already cosponsored by 242 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a bi-partisan group of 26 senators, including lead sponsor Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren and Tim Kaine. Unfortunately, neither Sens. McCaskill or Blunt have so far cosponsored the measure.

It will not be easy for federal and state policymakers to overcome the opioid epidemic’s enormous problems. Fixing the mail loophole, though, is an important and sensible place to start.

Read More >

Get Opioids Out of the U.S. Mail

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

By Paul Steidler

An important way to curtail opioid inflows is to require that all shipments from China through the U.S. Postal Service be preceded with basic electronic data – including who and where it is from, who it is going to and what is in it, before it crosses the U.S. border. With this information and related algorithms, law enforcement can better identify and check packages for deadly drugs.

John Kelly, as head of the Department of Homeland Security, testified that this information would be helpful for interdiction efforts. Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection have testified similarly. The Postal Service also acknowledges this.

Read More >

Advocates warn of USPS loophole that allows drugs to be mailed

NOVEMBER 3, 2017

By Rachel Karcz

Each day, countless envelopes and packages fly through post offices across the country. But some say some of that mail could be deadly. Homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem said through loopholes in the United States Postal Service, foreign drug dealers are able to send opiates, fentanyl and other dangerous drugs right through the mail.

“That’s coming in through a market that’s not regulated, and that’s our postal system,” Kayyem said.

Read More >

This is fentanyl: A visual guide

OCTOBER 24, 2017

By Nadia Kounang

But there’s another route that drug smugglers have also found to be effective: the US Postal Service. Some drug dealers are even buying from China directly into the United States. Considering that the Postal Service handles about 154 billion pieces of mail every year, it’s the proverbial needle in the haystack. Working with Customs and Border Protection, the Postal Service uses a range of tools, such as dogs, X-rays and an their intrinsic ability to spot something that just seems out of the ordinary.

Law enforcement officials say that at the moment, the government can’t effectively identify which packages to inspect because so little tracking information accompanies international mail bound for the United States. Packages sent via private couriers such UPS and FedEx come with information such as who sent them, transit stops the package made and who it is bound for, but only about half of all packages that come into the US carry that information. Bills currently in Congress aim to increase oversight of international packaging to help track their origins.

Read More >

Unchecked mail leads to fentanyl in the US

OCTOBER 24, 2017

By Bishop Nash

In the fentanyl trade, big things come in small packages. Small enough, as is often the case, to fit in an envelope, shipped and received through the international postal service as easy as any legal online purchase. It’s a security loophole that would not be tolerated in any other industry, said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor for Americans for Securing All Packages, a bipartisan advocacy group calling for increased security screening for parcels entering the United States.

Kayyem, who served as assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration, called the glaring lack of scrutiny for international mail entering the country the “homeland security issue of our time” considering the nation’s skyrocketing overdose death totals. An estimated 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016.

Read More >

No mistaking the importance of addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic

OCTOBER 23, 2017

By George Landrith

For too long shippers from outside the U.S. have been excessively negligent in permitting hazardous and addictive substances entering the country. Reaching American consumers should be a privilege, not a right, for these foreign senders. We need to formalize the STOP Act now to ensure they are paying their fair share for keeping our communities safe.

Read More >

Opinion: Protect first responders by closing deadly opioid loophole

OCTOBER 15, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

We owe it to law enforcement and to the American people to do everything we can to keep these poisons off our streets. We won’t stop reading headlines of tragic fentanyl deaths or of local first responders harmed by these drugs until we take action to keep synthetic opioids out of our country in the first place.

With so many voices from coast to coast speaking out, there’s no excuse — let’s close this loophole, shut down the postal drug pipeline, help save West Virginia lives and support our police and first responders.

Read More >

Fentanyl makes its way from Chinese labs to Baltimore streets, with deadly consequences

OCTOBER 13, 2017

By Meredith Cohn and Kevin Rector

All levels of law enforcement have been working to identify the routes fentanyl takes from China, interrupt the supplies and close loopholes.

A gaping hole is the nation’s mail system, according to Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Homeland Security secretary. He’s been working on behalf of a group of logistics, trucking, pharmacy and other companies for passage of a law aimed at collecting more information from shippers about the contents of their packages.

Read More >

Deadly Drug May Have Been Shipped Into U.S.; Expert Calls for New Laws

OCTOBER 7, 2017

By Elizabeth Barmeier

Juliette Kayyem, senior adviser for Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP), said the nonprofit organization focuses on the drug epidemic, more specifically, the supply chain and how drugs are coming into the country illegally. One of those ways is through the U.S. Postal System from countries such as China and Russia.

“The gaps in our postal system (is) this loophole that allows things to come into this country without being thoroughly screened,” Kayyem said.

Read More >

Traffickers Use Dark Web to Smuggle Extremely Lethal Chemicals into San Diego

OCTOBER 7, 2017

By Wendy Fry

The gap in security alarms authorities not just because of the opioid crisis, but also for our national security.

“People like me, who are very focused on America’s vulnerabilities are very concerned about this persistent loophole,” said Kayyem. “There’s nothing in place that would be able to determine what is coming into the country from China and Russia in small packages.”

Read More >

South Carolina Woman Receives $400K Of Oxycodone Instead Of Yoga Mat

OCTOBER 5, 2017

By Dory Jackson

“[Drug dealers] are sending drugs through the domestic postal service in packages that are not required to provide the same electronic data that they would have to provide if they sent them through a private express carrier like FedEx, UPS and DHL,” Tom Ridge, a former Homeland Security secretary and Pennsylvania governor, told Fox Business in April. “China is the major culprit. It’s open season there. Just send it through your postal service and chances are it will get through without detection.”

Read More >

Editorial: Here's how to respond to the heroin and opioid emergency

SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

By David Holthaus for the WCPO Editorial Board

We’d like to suggest actions that you and your administration can take. Our WCPO Heroin Advisory Board has been meeting for nearly two years and working on possible solutions to the crisis. The group comprises nearly 50 people directly affected by and involved in the epidemic: doctors, treatment professionals, prevention experts, social workers, recovering addicts and parents. Here are some of its recommendations:

  • Push for tougher penalties for traffickers and dealers. They bear responsibility for the enormous death toll.
  • Push Congress to pass the STOP Act, which would require the U.S. Postal Service to track packages it delivers. It is believed some of the deadly fentanyl illegally sold here has arrived via packages delivered by the Postal Service.
Read More >

Curtail international mail’s role in opioid crisis

SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

By Paul Steidler

With Ohio at the center of America’s opioid crisis, seemingly all the stops are being pulled out at the state level to address this epidemic. An important and often overlooked area where the federal government can step in is to more vigorously scrutinize international mail. And to get there, new legislation is needed.

It is especially difficult for law enforcement to interdict and control the supply of opioids. Drug dealers and users alike can replenish their suppliers cheaply and easily using the Internet and international mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Highly potent quantities fit in small envelopes.

Read More >

Editorial: Get moving on STOP to fight fentanyl

SEPTEMBER 13, 2017

By the Editorial Board

The STOP Act would be a valuable tool for Customs officials hoping to stem the flood of fentanyl into the country. Red flags would be raised for inspectors by incomplete information or recurring deliveries from the same location.

In recent years, the surge in overdose deaths in Ohio — and the country — has been linked to heroin and opioids. But the main culprit now is fentanyl, a deadlier and even more addictive drug. The STOP Act is one way to combat the flow of the drug into the marketplace. The bills received bipartisan support upon introduction in both houses of Congress. There is little objection to them. The recent Ohio report proves that lawmakers need to act with a sense of urgency.

Read More >

U.S. officials target loophole for online opioid dealers


By Kyle Lawson

It’s no secret that opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone have for years been shipped directly to Staten Island by way of the U.S. Postal Service.

While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has reported companies in China and Russia as the source of the deadly drugs, a loophole within global shipping laws has all but incapacitated the efforts of national law enforcement, experts say. But momentum to close the loophole appears to be growing.

Read More >

Rep. Pat Tiberi's STOP Act, Halt Drugs At Their Source

AUGUST 31, 2017

By Larry Stine

As a part of recognizing Thursday as International Overdose Awareness Day, 12th District U.S. Congressman Pat Tiberi of Ohio is leading the way on bi-partisan legislation called the STOP Act. It’s an effort to stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl from coming into the United States through packages in the U.S. Postal Service.

The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act or the STOP Act is bipartisan legislation designed to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped through our borders from countries like China to drug traffickers here in the U.S.

Read More >

Washington lawmakers tackling opioid shipping loophole

AUGUST 17, 2017

By Amy Clancy

Washington State Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-1) is co-sponsoring a bill that would strengthen the monitoring of packages sent to the United States by international government postal services – such as the packages allegedly sent to Smith over the past six months.

H.R. 1057 “would require foreign postal agencies to provide a manifest, electronic data about what’s in a package” DelBene told KIRO 7 on Thursday. “Right now, they don’t have to. That allows packages to get in that don’t get the same level of screening” that packages from private shipping companies are required to provide, she said.

Read More >

Group hoping to raise awareness of postal system loophole

AUGUST 7, 2017

By Rebecca Vogt

A bipartisan group hopes to raise awareness of what they call a global postal system loophole. They say it may be allowing opiates and synthetic drugs into the United States from foreign countries undetected.

“Americans for Securing All Packages” says there’s legislation currently in a House of Representatives subcommittee, the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act, that would require the U.S. Postal Service to use “Advance Electronic Data,” or AED, for mail shipped from foreign postal services.

Read More >

Stop Dangerous Drugs in International Mail

AUGUST 1, 2017

By Paul Steidler

A scary fact about this drug crisis is that law enforcement agencies are very challenged to control supply. These new synthetic drugs are especially problematic as drug dealers and users alike can replenish their supplies cheaply and easily using just the Internet and international mail delivered the U.S. Postal Service.

Lawmakers are taking notice.

Read More >

Legal loophole allows drug shipments into country via U.S. Postal Service

JULY 31, 2017

By Tom Ensey

When chemists in clandestine Chinese labs want to smuggle a shipment of illegal drugs to American drug dealers, they drop it in the U.S. mail.

For criminals, the United State Postal Service is the most reliable way to ship powerful, deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-47700 that are fueling America’s drug epidemic. The domestic postal service does not require the same digital tracking data required of FedEx, UPS and other private carriers, which creates an opening exploited worldwide by dealers.

Read More >

Group wants data on overseas packages

JULY 17, 2017

By James Mayse

Opioid products like fentanyl and carfentanil, which are many times more powerful and dangerous than heroin, have become well-known by law enforcement and first-responders in Louisville, Lexington and northern Kentucky, where fatal opioid overdoses have become a public health emergency. There were over 1,400 fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky last year, with fentanyl found in 623 cases. Fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid, is manufactured in China and shipped to the United States. In February, China banned the legal manufacture of fentanyl, carfentanil and other synthetic opioids.

But a former member of the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama said the United States could further curb the flow of synthetic opioids from overseas by requiring countries to provide more detailed data on mail they send to America. Bills that would mandate the collection of such data have been introduced in Congress and are awaiting action.

Read More >

Editorial: Stop opioids from being delivered by the U.S Postal Service

JULY 17, 2017

By the Inquirer Editorial Board

Within the murky online corners of the so-called Dark Net, drug dealers emphasize the best way to send their goods across the United States is not via FedEx, UPS, or another private mail carrier, but through the U.S Postal Service.

Last year, up to 59,000 opioid-related deaths occurred, making those narcotics the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Many of the deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids, which have flooded the market through mail orders from China using USPS.

Read More >

State officials urge Congress to close mail loophole causing drug epidemic

JULY 12, 2017

By Jade Scipioni

Fatal drug overdoses in Missouri have risen with the deadly tide of the nationwide opioid crisis. In State officials from Rhode Island, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky testified before the House Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday to urge Congress to close a loophole in the Global Postal System that is allowing deadly synthetic drugs to be shipped from abroad.

Kentucky Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet John Tilley asked Congress to pass the STOP ACT—which was introduced back in February—that will require all packages to have electronic security data that would allow law enforcement officials to screen and stop deadly material—like fentanyl (a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine) and other synthetic opioids from coming into the U.S.

Read More >

Cut off the pipeline of toxic drugs in the mail

JULY 12, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

Fatal drug overdoses in Missouri have risen with the deadly tide of the nationwide opioid crisis. In 2002, 416 Missourians died from overdose-related causes, and by 2015 that number had more than doubled to 1,066 deaths. Far too many of these deaths are attributable to the rise of new, toxic synthetic drugs — some hundreds of times more potent than heroin. Opioids like carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer, and fentanyl can kill or seriously harm someone just by touching their skin, at amounts no larger than a few grains of sand. These drugs have made their way into Missouri, and are often purchased unknowingly after being mixed into heroin, cocaine and even counterfeit prescription pills.

Fentanyl and carfentanil have been identified as coming mainly from overseas, particularly from factories in China. But despite their very real national security threat (carfentanil has been used as a chemical weapon), traffickers can easily send drugs and ingredients undetected by law enforcement through the mail, due to a loophole in the global postal system. While packages sent through private carriers require electronic data that helps Customs and Border Protection target specific dangerous shipments, foreign postal services are not required to include this data. The result is an easy access pipeline, bringing drugs right to Americans’ doorsteps.

Trump's Opioid Commission can help keep deadly drugs out of America

JUNE 16, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

On Friday, the President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis held its first meeting to address the public health scourge killing more Americans annually than gun violence or car accidents. Addressing the opioid epidemic could not be more urgent and the expertise and breadth of experience residing in this task force is a clear acknowledgement that there is no single solution: it will take the concerted efforts of all aspects of our society to resolve America’s opioid crisis. But no strategy will work without a serious approach to the illegal supply chain that is allowing these drugs to enter the U.S. in the first place. Too often it begins with the global postal system.

Read More >

Portman: Passing the STOP Act is a common sense way to fight fentanyl

JUNE 15, 2017

By Senator Rob Portman

What if I told you that, with just a few clicks of a mouse, you could order a drug online so deadly that just 3 milligrams of it — not even equal to a pinch of salt — would kill you?

It’s that easy. Synthetic opioids — forms of heroin like fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-44700 — are mostly made in labs in China, and every day they are being shipped right into our community through the mail service.

Read More >

Working to keep deadly, synthetic drugs out of the mail

JUNE 14, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

To protect our communities, we need to tackle the epidemic on all fronts and target the supply chain, including stopping the flow of illicit synthetic opioids from reaching our shores. That’s why I’m working with health care advocates, national security experts, businesses and nonprofits on Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP), a bipartisan coalition committed to closing the global postal loophole. We believe it is time for officials to act and ensure all packages shipped from abroad are adequately screened before arriving on Americans’ doorsteps. Only by tackling this crisis from all angles can we begin to find a lasting solution.

Read More >

It is too easy to ship deadly drugs in the mail

JUNE 10, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

As a former governor and the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, my number one priority will always be the safety and security of our nation, so it is with alarm that I have watched the rise of the opioid epidemic across the nation.

Six Utahns are being killed in this growing epidemic every week, and more people are dying nationwide from drug overdoses than from gun violence and car accidents – combined. And as this crisis has evolved, it’s turned a little-known security loophole in the global postal system into a serious national security threat, one that has created a pipeline for these deadly opioids directly into our communities.

Read More >

A Postal Service loophole makes it easier to ship deadly drugs into the US. Here’s how.

MAY 29, 2017

By Joce Sterman, Alex Brauer

It’s August on a highway outside Cincinnati. Officers pull over a car, smell pot and do a search. They find a potentially deadly surprise: heroin laced with synthetic drugs. One of them is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine, with a tiny amount strong enough to knock out a 2,000 pound elephant. “

This stuff will kill you in micrograins. What would be the equivalent of grains of salt would cause you to die,” said Gary Tuggle, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Philadelphia field office.

Read More >

Block the loophole in international opioid trafficking

MAY 26, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

As has been well-documented by this newspaper, opioid overdose deaths in Wisconsin have nearly doubled over the last decade, spurring a public health crisis that public health experts, elected officials and law enforcement officers are struggling to contain.

While elected officials such as Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Tammy Baldwin have taken significant steps to address the epidemic, it is imperative that lawmakers consider all the factors contributing to this crisis. That includes stopping the flow of synthetic opioids before they ever reach our communities.

Read More >

Close the postal system loophole that eases opioid shipments into the US

MAY 25, 2017

By Juliette Kayyem

hearing Thursday by the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is tackling an issue that is essential to helping stem the opioid epidemic wracking our country: the shipment of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States via the global postal system.

From 2014 to 2015, deaths from synthetic opioids rose by 72 percent, fueling the more than 33,000 opioid overdose deaths. Almost every week we hear of communities being ravaged by new, increasingly potent and exotic synthetic drugs. Reports indicate that China is the number one supplier of synthetic opioids, so addressing the shipment of these drugs into the US is crucial. Yet a loophole in the global postal system allows bad actors overseas to avoid scrutiny and mail their drugs directly to Americans’ doorsteps with minimal detection from law enforcement.

Read More >

Drug Deliveries

MAY 21, 2017

By Joce Sterman

Many reasons have been offered for tightening our borders. One is to reduce the flow of illegal drugs including the opioids fueling the America’s addiction crisis. But we found one method of trafficking drugs is shipping them, in plain sight… through the US Postal Service.

Read More >

Bipartisan coalition lobbying to close postal loophole creating pipeline of illicit drugs

MAY 18, 2017

By Robert Cantaneseh

In 2015, the Center for Disease Control reported that prescription opioid overdoses killed more than 760 people. Georgia saw more than 1,300 people die and Georgia is 11th in the nation for prescription opioid deaths. That got Congressman Buddy Carter’s attention.

“I don’t think most people realize how much is coming through the postal service,” said Carter. In 2017, the post office delivered more than 158 billion pieces of mail, UPS delivered about 16 million, and FedEx about 7 million. Congressman Carter says it’s easy to put drugs in the mail and drug traffickers are taking advantage.

Read More >

Former Homeland Security chief urges Congress to act on heroin crisis

MAY 11, 2017

By Boris Ladwig

Former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge is urging Congress to close a gaping hole in the nation’s defenses that allows illicit, lethal drugs to be shipped from overseas into U.S. communities essentially without inspection.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Congress took steps to improve the nation’s security, which included greater scrutiny of shipments of goods into the country. Private carriers such as FedEx and UPS quickly began collecting electronic data — package weight, origin, recipient — from senders and provided it to U.S. authorities, Ridge said in an interview.

Read More >

In Philly, fentanyl implicated in as many lethal ODs as heroin

MAY 10, 2017

By Sam Wood

Illicit fentanyl can be purchased on the internet, and often is shipped directly, via the U.S. Postal Service, to a customer’s doorstep. A consortium of lawmakers is trying to put a stop to that. In February, a bipartisan group in Congress introduced the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act.

The STOP Act would require anyone shipping a package from abroad into the U.S. to declare in advance customs data, including its contents and who is sending it. Currently, only parcels carried by private carriers such as DHL and FedEx are required to provide that information.

Read More >

Close postal loophole that fuels opioid epidemic

MAY 9, 2017

By Governor Tom Ridge

We lose 10 people to drug overdoses every day in Pennsylvania, a number that’s almost too shocking to believe. To put it into perspective, we are now losing more people to the opioid epidemic than from firearms or car crashes – combined.

When I was governor, and later at Homeland Security, the safety and security of our state and our nation was always my top priority. That hasn’t changed. Which is why I feel strongly that we need to use every tool in our arsenal to combat this epidemic that is ravaging our largest cities and smallest communities. But at this very moment there is a very real, very significant aspect of the crisis that has gone troublingly unaddressed. A loophole in the global postal system provides a pipeline for the deadliest illegal opioids, right to our doorsteps across Pennsylvania.

Read More >

Senators reach across aisle to fight synthetic drugs

May 3, 2017

By Jake Tapper

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Rob Portman have teamed up to introduce bipartisan legislation to fight the opioid and synthetic drug epidemic.

Read More >

Bill to Monitor U.S. Mail for Deadly Opioids

May 1, 2017

By Ray Collins

Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) is co-sponsoring legislation to increase monitoring of the U.S. Postal Service for deadly opioids.

The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act (STOP) is awaiting hearings in three House committees. The measure would require foreign shipments through our postal system to provide electronic advance data—such as who and where it is coming from, who it is going to, and what is in it—before they cross our borders and enter the U.S

Read More >

Minnesota law enforcement agencies chasing new, deadly opioid

APRIL 30, 2017

By David Chanen

The biggest break in the battle against carfentanil came in March when China declared it and three similar drugs illegal, closing a major regulatory loophole. Even so, new chemical combinations of carfentanil and fentanyl are quickly being created to replace banned formulas, Solek said. He said legislation has been introduced in Congress to make it easier to prosecute the sale of synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs.

Another important bill, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., with bipartisan support, would require packages from foreign countries to declare what’s in them, who sent them and where they’re going. The law could help police find dealers like the one who sold Taft and the other victims tainted drugs.

Read More >

Fentanyl delivered through the mail

APRIL 27, 2017

By John Bedell

Dayton Daily News reporter, Chris Stewart, has been covering the heroin epidemic for three years.

“They (criminals) can order it right online and have it delivered to a vacant house like these here in this neighborhood,” said Stewart. The drug can be shipped through the U.S. Postal Service without any of what’s known as “advanced electronic data” — things like: where the package is coming from, what’s inside and who’s shipping it. “That makes it easier for them to get Fentanyl through the system and to a house in Dayton,” Stewart said.

Read More >

Is the US Postal Service Helping Deliver America's Drug Epidemic?

APRIL 19, 2017

By Jade Scipioni

Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary and Pennsylvania governor, argues that the country’s growing drug problem can’t be cured until the U.S. closes loopholes in the postal system that allow illegal and deadly synthetic drugs to be shipped – undetected — through the regular mail.

“[Drug dealers] are sending drugs through the domestic postal service in packages that are not required to provide the same electronic data that they would have to provide if they sent them through a private express carrier like FedEx, UPS  and DHL,” Ridge told FOX Business.

Read More >

Heroin Can Be Shipped To The U.S. Via The Postal Service. It's Time We Do Something About It.

APRIL 18, 2017

By Senator Rob Portman

Every day, poison is being shipped from China and other nations into our communities through our mail system.

Synthetic forms of heroin like fentanyl, carfentanil, and U-4 are pouring into this country. These drugs are even more deadly than heroin – 50 times more toxic in some cases. Fentanyl is so powerful that all it takes is two milligrams – the equivalent of a pinch of salt – to kill you.

Read More >

Finding solutions to Fentanyl crisis

APRIL 16, 2017

By Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA)

Along with prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts, interdiction of the fentanyl supply is an additional and critical component of a comprehensive approach to confronting this deadly drug. Fentanyl sent by mail from abroad, utilizing the U.S. postal system, is one way drugs continue to enter the country illegally. A recent study on counterfeit drugs found that foreign postal mail is now one of the primary methods for importing illegal drugs and opioids, contributing to the uptick in overdose deaths across the nation. Requiring the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to utilize advanced electronic customs data on a package’s origin, destination, and content would align U.S. postal mail with private shipping companies that already require this data.

Read More >

N.H. opioids come from as far away as China and Mexico

APRIL 8, 2017

By Ella Nilsen

Every day, quantities of drugs both large and small are transported into New Hampshire from other states in the Northeast, including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.

But the path for the flow of deadly heroin and fentanyl starts thousands of miles away, in Chinese warehouses, and poppy fields and clandestine labs run by Mexican cartels.

Read More >

Crackdown On Opioid Trafficking Through US Mail Attracting Rare Bipartisan Support

MARCH 30, 2017

By Steve Birr

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, is leading a bipartisan effort to crack down on illegal shipments of synthetic opioids through the U.S. mail, which is contributing to the large influx of fentanyl into the country.

The STOP Act, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, aims to put packages shipped through the U.S. Postal Service under more intense security screenings to cut down on international trafficking. Domestic dealers are increasingly relying on foreign shipments of fentanyl, primarily from China, which is cut into batches of heroin, making it more potent and potentially deadly, reports USA Today.

Read More >

Senators Introduce Bill to Stop Deadly Flow of Fentanyl From China

MARCH 30, 2017

By Ali Meyer

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) introduced the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act, otherwise known as the STOP Act, earlier this year in an attempt to stop dangerous synthetic drugs from getting into the United States from China. In a bipartisan effort, Portman introduced the bill alongside senators Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Maggie Hassan (D., N.H).

One of these deadly drugs getting into the United States is fentanyl, a narcotic that is known as one of the strongest opiates on the market. The effects of fentanyl include euphoria, mellowness, and drowsiness.

Read More >

Exclusive—Gov. Tom Ridge on Opioids: ‘It’s a Supply and Demand Problem; You Have to Attack Both’

MARCH 29, 2017

By Katie McHugh

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge says Congress must pass a pending bill to close the shipping loophole allowing Chinese companies to sell lethal opioids to distributors in U.S. neighborhoods.

“We worry about weapons of mass destruction,” he told Breitbart News. “But I think 30 pounds of fentanyl in the wrong hands is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Read More >

National organization (ASAP) talks with Herald about drug trafficking through mail

MARCH 28, 2017

By Sam Neace

Opioid drug addiction has lingered at epidemic status in Southeastern Kentucky throughout nearly a generation. Seldom a month passes without arrests being made for trafficking or a local family receiving the tragic news that a loved one has overdosed. One organization is attempting to tackle this issue from a perspective they claim is often overlooked by the general public. Led by the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, who was appointed by President George W. Bush and President Obama’s former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP) is a bipartisan coalition with a mission of closing what it claims to be a dangerous security gap that leaves our nation vulnerable to terrorist attacks and invites illegal and toxic drugs into our communities. Earlier this week, officials from ASAP reached out to the Hazard Herald to raise awareness for their cause.

Read More >

Former Homeland Security chief calls mailboxes a gateway for drugs

MARCH 26, 2017

By Joey Bunch

The government probably would rather I didn’t tell you this, and maybe I shouldn’t. But former Penn. Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Homeland Security secretary, told me this in my kitchen.

In my book that gives me clearance. I was on the phone with him when Ridge said the government-run postal systems in the United States and abroad do a remarkably lousy job of screening the mail for drugs.

Read More >

Lawmakers seek to curb deadly shipments of fentanyl into Maine by US mail

MARCH 12, 2017

By Nok-Noi Ricker

Law enforcement officials have known for years that synthetic drugs from China are often mailed to Maine and other U.S. destinations, and federal lawmakers are now taking action to stop the deadly synthetics that are killing people in droves from entering the country via the postal service.

Maine is seeing more than one drug overdose death per day, and more than half are attributed to fentanyl, a lab-made opioid that is 50 times stronger than street heroin and is often shipped to the U.S. from China or India. Drug dealers buy the fentanyl cheaply and frequently mix it in with heroin to give the drug extra potency.

Read More >

Lethal Opiates Delivered By Mail From China, Killing Addicts In The U.S.

MARCH 11, 2017

By Arun Rath

Carfentanil is an opiate 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. And since last summer, it’s been killing addicts and confounding first responders across the country.

The drug was never intended to be consumed by humans. But it has been used to kill and immobilize humans — reportedly, in assassination attempts and by Russian Special Forces in 2002. They apparently used it in aerosol form as a knockout gas to end a hostage situation. Tragically, the gas ended up killing more than 100 hostages.

Read More >

Police organization calls on lawmakers to pass STOP act

FEBRUARY 28, 2017

The US Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has voiced its strong support for a new bill aimed at cracking down on illicit drug imports.

The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act (S.372) was introduced by Senator Rob Portman earlier this month with the aim of stopping dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil – often copies of genuine prescription medicines – from being shipped into the US.

Read More >

Stop trafficking of synthetic heroin through the mail

FEBRUARY 21, 2017

By Sen. Rob Portman and Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Addiction to heroin and prescription drugs is an epidemic spreading across our country. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death, taking one American life every 12 minutes. We have strong reasons to believe that this epidemic is getting worse, not better.

This month, the US-China Commission issued a disturbing new report on the influx of Chinese fentanyl — a synthetic form of heroin that can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and even 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Read More >

WHIO Reports: Drugs through the mail

FEBRUARY 17, 2017

This edition of WHIO Reports focuses on drug addiction in the Miami Valley.

Guests including members of ASAP member group FOA Families of Addicts discuss drug trafficking in the area with particular emphasis on a method of illegally sending and receiving through the mail from other countries through online ordering.

Read More >

Hassan co-sponsors bill aimed at stopping flow of drugs into country

FEBRUARY 17, 2017

By Josh McElveen

Officials said that all but seven of the 434 opiod-related deaths in New Hampshire last year could be traced to some form of fentanyl. The ingredients for the drug are often sent from overseas through the mail, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

“When I was secretary of Homeland Security, we worried about people coming across the border to do us harm, and now we have drugs coming across the border,” Ridge said.

Read More >

Bipartisan bill aims to crack down on illicit opioid shipments into US

FEBRUARY 14, 2017

By Dylan Scott

WASHINGTON — Aiming to choke off shipments of powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is introducing legislation on Tuesday to require more information on packages mailed into the US.

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Republicans Rob Portman and Marco Rubio along with Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Maggie Hassan, was introduced late last Congress but never moved. A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the House by Representatives Pat Tberi, a Republican, and Richard Neal, a Democrat.

Read More >

China shipments help to fuel local drug trade

FEBRUARY 11, 2017

By Chris Stewart

Postal carriers have become unwitting mules in the flow of drugs into the Miami Valley. Officials say overseas shippers — many from China — are exploiting a loophole in U.S. law that allows packages to enter this country through the mail virtually unchecked.

Read More >

Editorial: Move STOP now

FEBRUARY 10, 2017

Congress is divided on many issues, but surely all members should recognize that this is a crisis that is ripping communities apart. The STOP Act is just one tool and one step forward in the fight, but it is a step that must be taken as soon as possible.

Read More >

Tom Ridge wants USPS to improve screening for opioids in overseas shipments

FEBRUARY 8, 2017

By Tom Fontaine

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Homeland Security secretary, is calling on the federal government to eliminate a loophole that he says has created a pipeline for opioids to be shipped illegally to the United States.

“I’m beyond surprised that they wouldn’t take a more aggressive approach to this,” said Ridge, a senior adviser for the Washington-based nonprofit Americans for Securing All Packages.

Read More >

State of Addiction: Closing the drug shipping loophole

FEBRUARY 8, 2017

By Janelle Hall

“You don’t need much of it to kill a lot of people.”

That’s what former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says about carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer that delivers a deadly high thousands of times stronger than morphine. It’s coming into the U.S. by mail, and Ridge said there is “a huge vulnerability in our postal system.”

Read More >

Former Gov. Ridge joins effort to close postal 'loophole' for illegal drugs

FEBRUARY 7, 2017

By Kirstin Kennedy

Known for his role in developing a system of national security, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge is now looking at different threat to Americans: illegal drug trafficking through the postal service.

With record numbers of overdose deaths plaguing the nation, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States has become the topic de jure for politicians and law enforcement officials alike. Through this has developed a newly formed bipartisan coalition, Americans for Securing All Packages.

Read More >

Ridge joins movement to fix postal ‘loophole’ as part of effort to stop overseas drug shipments

FEBRUARY 7, 2017

By David Hurst

Thanks to a 14-year-old shipping loophole, one of the nation’s deadliest drugs – Fentanyl – is often delivered from overseas to drug dealers’ doorsteps.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has joined a bipartisan coalition aiming to change that.

Read More >

How Opioids Slip Through The Postal Service: One Big Loophole

FEBRUARY 2, 2017

By Esther Honig

When the opioid carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer, surfaced in Ohio last summer, it caused a public health emergency. Ohio now suffers more fatal drug overdoses from synthetic opioids than any other state in the country.

It seems carfentanil slipped through a crack in the system: a loophole in the Postal Service.

Read More >

Lethal opioids from China are getting to the streets of America courtesy of the US Postal Service

JANUARY 19, 2017

By Carol Hills

A drug designed to tranquilize elephants — 100 times more potent than fentanyl — is getting into the United States via an easy route — through the mail.

National security analyst Juliette Kayyem says this vulnerability needs to be addressed: “Homeland security has to be about risk reduction and about the vulnerabilities in our system, and while over the past 15 years we’ve tightened up airline security, cargo security, maritime security, we’ve done almost nothing with mail,” she says.

Read More >

PRI's The World: Chinese opioid drugs

PRI’s The World covers the spread of carfentanil, the synthetic opioid designed as a elephant tranquilizer that is now a major contributor to opioid deaths in the U.S. ASAP Senior Advisor Juliette Kayyem speaks on how the loophole in the global postal system has provided a path for carfentanil and other deadly drugs to easily enter communities across the country.


Read More >

Synthetic Opioids Are Making Their Way Into The US Via The Postal Service

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

By the Zachary Siegel

The fentanyl problem “is as disruptive to our country as any terrorist act has been,” Juliette Kayyem, who teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, told the Globe.

Kayyem, also a former assistant Homeland Security secretary, said that some 340 million pieces of unchecked mail passes through the Postal Service and U.S. Customs without screening.

Read More >

Synthetic opioids are getting into US by mail

DECEMBER 27, 2016

By Brian MacQuarrie

Deadly synthetic opioids are streaming into the United States amid a flood of mail that arrives unscreened from abroad every day, overwhelming the Postal Service and fueling the drug epidemic gripping much of the country, security experts and Massachusetts lawmakers say.

Nearly 1 million packages a day enter the country without any advance electronic information that might flag the presence of dangerous opioids such as fentanyl, much of which is manufactured in China, said Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant Homeland Security secretary.

Read More >

Seeing surge in drugs from China, senator urges restrictions on mail-order opioids

DECEMBER 12, 2016

By Dylan Scott

The third area where we can make progress is in trying to keep these synthetic heroins out. One of the new challenges we’ve seen in Ohio is carfentanil and fentanyl. At this point, law enforcement people tell us they’re coming in from overseas, specifically China is the major source, [and] some is from India. It’s very high potency and it comes in packages through the US mail system.

If they send it through UPS or FedEx or any other private carrier, they have to provide information upfront about where it’s from, what’s in it, where’s it going. They don’t have to do that with the US mail system, and that’s one reason the traffickers use the mail system. What we’re saying is let’s simply require the same information.

Read More >

Opioids online: Utah law enforcement, legislators hope to curb bulk shipments of deadly drugs on the dark web

DECEMBER 12, 2016

By Matthew Piper

As the nation’s first secretary for homeland security, Tom Ridge said it was natural that he be approached about an effort to secure U.S. borders.

Ridge now advises a bipartisan coalition trying to close a loophole that each day allows almost a million packages to enter the nation without electronic security data. Among them, says Americans for Securing All Packages: fentanyl, pink and even more potent synthetic opioids.

“We don’t necessarily know where the next terrorist attack is coming from, but we certainly know where the opioids are coming from, and if you have that knowledge, shame on you if you don’t act on it,” Ridge said.

Read More >

Auditor General DePasquale supports legislation to end loophole that allows lethal drugs to enter U.S. through mail

FOX 43
DECEMBER 8, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa.– Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today praised national legislative efforts to help prevent the shipment of dangerous synthetic drugs into the country through the United States Postal Service. Drug traffickers are killing thousands of Americans by using the mail system to ship dangerous drugs, like fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid pain medication.

“Last year an average of 67 Pennsylvanians died every week from drug overdoses,” DePasquale said. “We could save thousands of people and their families from being destroyed. We cannot continue to allow overseas drug traffickers to use our postal system to make money at the expense of American lives. We must do everything possible to stop these illegal drugs from crossing our borders and killing our friends and family members.”

Read More >

The Amazon of drug trafficking: How a mail-order opioid operation took root on the high plains of Texas

DECEMBER 6, 2016

By David Armstrong

President-elect Donald Trump has promised that his border wall will stop the illegal drugs flooding into the United States from Mexico. But increasingly the most powerful opioids destroying lives and devastating communities from Maine to Texas are arriving through a different route: from China. Via the US Postal Service.

Read More >

Bradenton Herald: Buchanan co-sponsors legislation to curb fentanyl-by-mail

DECEMBER 2, 2016

By Hannah Morse

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan announced Friday he is co-sponsoring the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention, or STOP, Act, which would require more extensive screening for drugs through the U.S. Postal Service.

Fentanyl and carfentanil are the synthetic drugs that have been more and more responsible for the rise in overdose deaths, especially in Manatee County, and are said to be coming through the mail from China, Mexico and Canada.

Read More >

Dear President-Elect Trump: Three Steps To Address The Opioid Epidemic

NOVEMBER 29, 2016

By Rob Britton

So it’s time, past time, for action. As soon as Mr. Trump is sworn in on January 20, he should take three steps. First, he must close the loophole that allows foreign postal services, such as those from China, to deliver packages without the advance electronic security data that other shippers, like FedEx and UPS, must provide. Law enforcement – including Customs and Border Protection – needs this data to know when, where and how deadly synthetic drugs are entering the country. This loophole therefore creates an easy superhighway for overseas opioids to enter the United States – along with other dangerous items, including weapons and explosives that could be used by terrorists. The president can and should close this loophole by executive action – no need to wait for Congress. President-elect Trump has already demonstrated that he recognizes this loophole’s significance and tragic impact by speaking of it on the campaign trail, and his released plan of action on the opiate crisis listed closing the loophole as one of its four main actions.

Read More >

WBUR: Fentanyl Deaths Rise As Curbing Supply Proves Difficult

NOVEMBER 8, 2016

By Martha Bebinger

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, made from chemicals, unlike heroin, which is produced from the poppy plant. Drug enforcement agents say clandestine labs across China are the main source of the drug. It’s shipped to Mexico where drug cartels mix it into heroin or press it into blue, pink or white tablets that look like prescription anxiety or pain pills. The powder or pills are delivered to dealers or directly to users via the internet or darknet, an area used for illegal purchases.

“Synthetic drugs are a real winner, right, because they are easy to make, and they’re cheap to produce,”said Kara McDonald, director of policy, planning and coordination at the international narcotics and law enforcement bureau of the State Department. “They’re not dependent on a season or the weather like a plant-based drug. And with the distribution system, through mail order, they can be delivered directly to the door, in some cases, like a pizza.”

Read More >

WESA: Could Closer Monitoring Of International Mail Help Prevent Opioid Overdose Deaths?

NOVEMBER 7, 2016

By Liz Reid

Allegheny County is on track to see a record number of fatal drug overdoses involving fentanyl in 2016. According to the Medical Examiner’s office, 114 overdose victims have been found to have the highly potent opioid in their systems, just eight shy of last year’s all-time record.

The prevalence of fentanyl among overdose victims has skyrocketed over the last three years. In all of 2013, just eight fatal overdoses involved fentanyl.

Read More >

A chance to address state’s opioid crisis

OCTOBER 24, 2016

By George Landrith

The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act was passed recently by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. Additionally, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee hosted a roundtable discussion, including representatives from Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration and others. The conversations centered on the U.S. Postal Service’s role in being the distributor of harmful substances such as Fentanyl, an opioid more powerful than heroin.

To help combat this, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act was introduced. Specifically, the bill would require shipments from foreign countries through the USPS to provide electronic data that shares the contents of incoming packages with federal authorities, such as Customs and Border Protection, to identify potentially harmful products from entering our borders.

The issues surrounding the soft underbelly of the nation’s mail system and the potential for it to be invaded by hazardous materials and drugs are a concern that some have been monitoring and discussing for a while. As former Secretary for Homeland Security Tom Ridge noted recently, the fact that many of the 1 million packages shipped into the U.S. “go generally unchecked for dangerous and illegal content” is a major security concern. And an analysis by the Lexington Institute highlighted how a large amount of synthetic drugs produced in China are being shipped through the U.S. Postal Service for delivery inside the U.S.

Read More >

Why the Opioid Crisis is an issue of Homeland Security

OCTOBER 24, 2016

By Juliette Kayyem

While the final presidential debate brought up discussions around protecting our borders and deporting drug traffickers, Chris Wallace (and every other debate moderator this election cycle) never asked about how our presidential candidates will address the very real public health crisis stemming from opioid and heroin abuse. Every day, the epidemic is killing 78 Americans and it is creating enormous risk for our next commander in chief who will be in charge of handling this crisis.

So, why is a security expert like me concerned about drug abuse? Our homeland defenses are focused on risk planning – terrorism is a threat, but so are hurricanes and tornados, oil spills and border controls, and public health risks like Zika and, clearly, synthetic drugs. Our nation’s security is about calculating risks to all-hazards and supporting those who are trained to protect our citizens. Simply put, the drug epidemic is challenging our overall response capacity and we haven’t closed the gaps in our postal system that brings the drugs here.

Read More >

Pink: Stronger Than Heroin, But Legal In Most States

OCTOBER 18, 2016

Paramedics across the country are seeing a rise in overdose deaths from powerful drugs legally bought online and shipped through the mail. One drug, called “pink,” has a small town in Utah under siege.

Read More >

STOP Act Would Limit Use Of USPS for Illicit Drugs

OCTOBER 7, 2016

By Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), Rep. Pat Tiberi (R., Ohio) and Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.)

We wholeheartedly agree with Arthur Herman and John P. Walters’s “Why Drug Runners Love the U.S. Postal Service” (op-ed, Sept. 30) that one of the biggest obstacles in our efforts to stop illicit drugs from entering our country is loopholes in our own U.S. mail system. What they don’t mention, however, is that there is already bipartisan legislation out there to shut down these loopholes. It’s called the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, and it will help stop dangerous drugs from being shipped from China to traffickers here in the U.S. In 2014, more people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. than any year on record—on average now of about 120 people every day. Together we must work to stop this epidemic. It’s time for the House and Senate to pass the STOP Act.

Read More >

Chemical Weapon for Sale: China's Unregulated Narcotic

OCTOBER 8, 2016

For a few thousand dollars, Chinese companies offer to export a powerful chemical that has been killing unsuspecting drug users and is so lethal that it presents a potential terrorism threat, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Read More >

The Accelerating Opioid Crisis, And A Glaring Vulnerability

OCTOBER 6, 2016

By Rob Britton

In the arc of a lifetime, I’ve witnessed the rising tides of many drug epidemics, beginning in the 1960s. Sadly, none have accelerated as quickly as the latest opioid addiction epidemic, which seems to be sweeping the nation and leaving no one untouched. In fact, you can’t read the news without seeing one disturbing example after another.

In my home state of Virginia, for example, the Secretary for Health and Human Services recently said the crisis is so widespread and so fast-growing that punishment alone cannot address the problem, and that more people in Virginia die from opioid overdose than from car crashes and gun violence combined. In Ohio, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, Dr. Thomas Gilson, recently said that fentanyl and heroin had already killed 300 people this year and the number of fatalities are likely to be double from 2015. In Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services issued an advisory calling opioid addiction a public health crisis. With more than 600 opioid-related deaths in 2015, the number of people dying from overdoses in Wisconsin now exceeds those dying in car crashes or from breast cancer, colon cancer, HIV, suicide or shootings, the advisory said. And a recent video from Massachusetts of a young woman overdosed on the floor of a store went viral, grimly showing her two-year-old daughter crying and calling for her mom to wake up.

Read More >

Why Drug Runners Love the U.S. Postal Service

SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

By Arthur Herman and John P. Walters

When you think of drug trafficking, the neighborhood mailman probably isn’t what springs to mind. But thanks to archaic international rules and outdated systems, the U.S. Postal Service is unwittingly facilitating the spread of illicit pharmaceuticals—at taxpayers’ expense.

The USPS delivers packages from all over the world with few questions asked. As international shipping has exploded in the past decade, especially from China, the postal service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been overwhelmed by the size and scale of the screening problem.

Read More >

A huge amount of fentanyl is being seized at the Canadian border

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

By Rachel Browne

In the United States, a group of senators urged the Obama administration to adopt stricter standards around packages shipped into the US from abroad by private carriers.

“A million packages a day are coming into American communities without the electronic data law enforcement needs to target them,” warned advocacy group Americans for Securing All Packages in a statement, noting that parcels from abroad are not subject to the same electronic screening procedures as those shipped by private carriers.

Read More >

Postal Service unwittingly fuels opioid epidemic by delivering foreign drugs right to U.S. doorsteps

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

By Tom Howell Jr.

The new drug mules aren’t gang members or down-and-out ex-cons or even children trying to make a quick buck.

In fact, the latest players in drug trafficking often wear a uniform, drive a government car and are due to collect a taxpayer-backed pension when they retire — from the U.S. Postal Service.

Authorities say that the ongoing opioid epidemic is being fueled by the mail, tracing paths from India or China right to Americans’ doorsteps.

Read More >

How America Gets Its Deadliest New Drug


By Steven Melendez

In the past few months, a string of overdoses across the U.S. has been linked to an opioid drug so potent that it’s not intended for human consumption.

Carfentanil is the world’s most powerful commercial opioid, considered to be 100 times more potent than its relative fentanyl, the carefully controlled prescription painkiller linked to Prince’s death, which itself is 50 times stronger than heroin.

Originally synthesized in the 1970s, carfentanil is marketed under the name Wildnil as a general anaesthetic for large animals like elephants, and was never intended for humans. But like any number of new synthetic drugs, it’s easily finding its way from clandestine labs and into the illicit drug supply through the mail. Sold openly on the web or through drug markets on the anonymous Tor network, the drug is being added to heroin and counterfeit pain medication by traffickers and often taken by users who don’t know exactly what they’re consuming.

Read More >

You’ve Got Mail. But Is It Safe?

SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

By Rob Britton

Because I spent most of my career at American Airlines, my antenna is always up when it comes to safety and security — and it’s even higher after marking the 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies. In the years since, Americans have worked hard — in government, the private sector and elsewhere — to make our country safer.

You will thus be astonished and troubled to learn that every day nearly a million packages enter the United States from abroad without being checked for dangerous and illegal contents. This security loophole exposes Americans to terrorist risk and to criminals mailing lethal opioids and counterfeit goods into our country.

Read More >

When it comes to safety, there is no finish line


By Juliette Kayyem

With these standards in mind, it can help to focus our collective efforts for the next 15 years in a world where terror is just one of many threats. For example, our postal delivery system — where almost 1 million packages per day are being shipped into the United States from China, Russia, India and other foreign countries — is not adequately screening for dangerous and illegal content. While private carriers are subject to requiring advance manifest data on packages entering the United States, the same is not true for foreign posts and the US postal service. This is a loophole that can and should be closed.

This vulnerability can be exposed by those who would do harm to this nation, and has already been manipulated by those delivering illegal and synthetic drugs right to our doors. In this case, technology isn’t the challenge (it already exists and is being used by private carriers); it is the will.

Read More >

Advocates Call for International Shipment Screening for Drugs, Weapons


By Kimberly Leonard

A new national security group is advocating for a homeland security fix to the country’s opioid problem: pushing to close a loophole that allows packages to enter the U.S. without proper screening.

The group, Americans for Securing All Packages, is pushing for passage of a bill introduced in Congress Wednesday, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act, which would require electronic security data to be attached to all packages coming into the U.S.

Read More >

Heroin Epidemic's New Terror: Carfentanil


By Melissa Locker

This August, at least 96 heroin users overdosed in one devastating, brutal week in just one county in Ohio. It’s believed that they were victims not only of their addictions to heroin, but of a synthetic opioid that some dealers are adding to the narcotic to give it an even more powerful – and completely deadly – kick: Carfentanil.

Carfentanil is the most potent commercial opioid in the world, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, and at least 100 times more powerful than its analog, the opioid fentanyl, which was linked to Prince’s untimely death. Carfentanil’s only officially recognized use is to sedate large zoo animals like moose, buffalo and elephants. It takes just two milligrams of Carfentanil to knock out a 2,000-pound African elephant, and the veterinarians who administer the drug use gloves and face masks to prevent exposure to it, because a dose the size of a grain of salt could kill a person – and may be lethal even when absorbed through the skin. To be clear, Carfentanil is not for human consumption in any way. This does not stop drug dealers from adding a microscopic amount to heroin to give the drug an even more potent high – even though it’s often fatal.

Read More >

Stopping Fentanyl through the Mail


By Megan Cassella

Meanwhile, a bipartisan coalition of national security experts, businesses, health care advocates and concerned families calling itself Americans for Securing All Packages is adding its voice to the cause, estimating that 340 million packages enter the United States every year without being screened.

“It is time to close this outdated security loophole and demand that foreign posts provide advanced electronic shipping data,” former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. “We need to make sure law enforcement has the tools to prevent terrorists from shipping biological threats, illicit drugs and other dangerous materials directly into our country.”

Read More >

First DHS secretary warns about lack of postal security


By Kelly Cohen

The first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that the U.S. postal system is not secure enough against terrorists.

Tom Ridge, who was DHS Secretary from 2003-2005, is calling the postal system “a gaping hole in our national security preparedness.”

“Every day, almost 1 million packages are shipped into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service from China, Russia and other foreign countries. These packages go generally unchecked for dangerous and illegal content,” Ridge wrote in a USA Today op-ed published on Wednesday.

And though the Congress and the federal government have taken steps in years past to secure the postal system, new technologies have created a new gap, and the volume for U.S.-bound foreign packages has only increased.


Read More >

Tom Ridge: 15 years after 9/11, a gaping security gap


By Tom Ridge

On Sept. 11, 2001, the shocking terrorist attack in the heart of New York City, at the Pentagon and in my home state of Pennsylvania prompted our nation to confront a very real question: Are we truly prepared?

As we commemorate our nation’s deadliest terrorist attack 15 years later, we have come a long way in securing our borders from terrorists and other bad actors. However, there remains a gaping hole in our national security preparedness, coming from a largely ignored source — the global postal system.

Read More >

‘Huge security gap’ lets dangerous packages enter US through postal system


By J.J. Green

Every day, about a million packages are shipped into the U.S.  through the U.S. Postal Service from China, Russia, India and other countries. Many packages are not checked for dangerous and illegal contents, posing what the co-leader of a new national security project calls a “huge security gap.”

“The gap is essentially when mail is sent to the United States from foreign countries; if it’s of a certain weight, it doesn’t go through normal cargo surveillance like the mail that is sent through private mailing services such as UPS and FedEx,” said Juliette Kayyem, of Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP).

Every year, according to ASAP, 340 million mail items, from small letters to large boxes, sent from foreign postal systems enter the U.S. postal system delivery stream — without electronic data that could tip off intelligence agencies to a threat.

Read More >

It’s time to make it harder to get dangerous drugs through the mail

AUGUST 4, 2016

By Michael McCaul
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security

The House of Representatives recently passed a number of bills designed to combat the epidemic of dangerous drugs sweeping across the United States. No congressional district has been spared from this problem, and people are dying at an alarming rate from the use of fentanyl, bath salts, flakka, K2, Spice and other synthetic drugs. But lawmakers failed to act to close a major entry point for these terrible drugs into the United States: the global postal system.

Anyone with a laptop, wireless access and a credit card can order these poisons over the Internet from abroad and have them shipped directly to their home through the U.S. mail. This is not a new problem — Congress has held extensive hearings on this issue, starting as far back as 2000. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 340 million packages enter the United States through the international mail stream, with little or no electronic manifest data associated with them. Our federal law enforcement agencies have no way to perform risk assessments on incoming postal shipments before they arrive and are forced to manually screen millions upon millions of postal parcels in an attempt to intercept these deadly drugs.

Read More >

The Chinese Connection Fueling America’s Fentanyl Crisis

JUNE 23, 2016

By Jeanne Whalen and Brian Spegele 

A vast network beginning in China feeds fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, to the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Last spring, Chinese customs agents seized 70 kilograms of the narcotics fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl hidden in a cargo container bound for Mexico.

Read More >

Is your mailman (unwittingly) a drug dealer?


MAY 10, 2016

By Don Soifer

Securing our nation’s borders against illegal entrants has become the most reverberant, and often most polarizing, rallying cry of the nation’s recent political discourse. But a different kind of illegal threat entering this country every day is at least as present on the minds of law enforcement officials across America: the constant flow of dangerous, cheap synthetic drugs through the mail.

Last month, a bipartisan group of five U.S. Senators held a roundtable forum at the U.S. Capitol to discuss the biggest threat to public safety most Americans have never heard of. The Senators questioned a panel of government experts, including representatives of the U.S. Postal Service, Customs and Border Protection; Drug Enforcement Agency; and Department of State, who acknowledged the crisis. Each emphasized its causes as systemic, making any fast solution unlikely.

Read More >

Our nation's drug problem is also a postal service problem


MAY 6, 2016

By George Landrith

Our nation’s drug abuse problem is also a postal service problem.

With each passing day, news coverage is filled with reports about the unfortunate toll that many forms of drug abuse are having on our communities. The recent rise of the heroin epidemic is just the latest in a long string of vicious cycles of drug abuse claiming thousands of lives each and every year.

Read More >

Senators Tackle Drug Trafficking Via Mail Systems

APRIL 19, 2016

By Ellie Potter

Senators grappled with the supply side of the nation’s growing opioid epidemic on Tuesday, noting the significant amount of drugs entering the U.S. through the mail.

But combating the problem is complicated by the different ways mail is sent and the variety of rules each delivery system operates under.

Read More >

'Truly terrifying': Chinese suppliers flood US and Canada with deadly fentanyl


APRIL 5, 2016

By David Armstrong

The dozen packages were shipped from China to mail centers and residences in Southern California. One box was labeled as a “Hole Puncher.”

In fact, it was a quarter-ton pill press, which federal investigators allege was destined for a suburban Los Angeles drug lab. The other packages, shipped throughout January and February, contained materials for manufacturing fentanyl, an opioid so potent that in some forms it can be deadly if touched.

Read More >

A gap left unchecked in US border security


NOVEMBER 27, 2015

By Jayson Ahern

The United States has worked tirelessly to protect our borders and ensure that another terrorist attack does not occur on U.S. soil.  Our nation has committed billions of dollars in increased personnel, technology, and infrastructure for security by land, air, and sea.   

Yet, a massive gap remains that potentially threatens every citizen.   

Read More >

Bomb Plot Shows Key Role Played by Intelligence


OCTOBER 31, 2010

By Mark Mazzetti, Robert F. Worth and Eric Lipton

In the middle of last week, a woman who claimed her name was Hanan al-Samawi, a 22-year-old engineering student, walked into the U.P.S. office in the upscale Hadda neighborhood of Sana, Yemen’s sprawling capital city. She displayed a photocopied identification card, and dropped off a bomb hidden inside a printer cartridge with a Chicago address listed as the package’s destination. A few blocks away, another package concealing a homemade bomb was dropped off at a FedEx office, also seemingly headed to Chicago.

Within days, the two packages had advanced through four countries in at least four different airplanes — two of them carrying passengers — before they were identified in Britain and Dubai after an 11th-hour tip from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service set off an international terrorism alert and a frantic hunt.

Read More >