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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.


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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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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.   

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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.

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