New HSGAC Minority Report Ignores Real Solution to Stopping Fentanyl Shipped Through the Mail

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Claire McCaskill, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a new report on efforts to disrupt the increased flow of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs entering our country from abroad. Unfortunately, the report misses a critical security gap that cripples Customs and Border Protection’s ability to interdict deadly opioid shipments. Packages shipped through the global postal network and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service currently lack advance electronic data (AED), vital security information that enables law enforcement to screen the massive number of inbound packages for dangerous drugs and other high-risk material.

AED is required on all foreign packages delivered by private carriers, but an outdated law means that it is still not included with international packages sent via the postal service. This loophole has left international drug traffickers with easy access to American markets, helping fuel the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Senator McCaskill’s report calls for the addition of 4,000 new Customs and Border Patrol port officers to physically search the millions of packages entering our country through international mail facilities and other ports of entry. While there are justifiable concerns on understaffing at CBP, any effective screening process must include AED to successfully target foreign drug shipments. The continued failure to provide law enforcement officers with this critical security tool has allowed the foreign opioid pipeline to continue unabated.

“The men and women of CBP deserve our government’s full support in their work to keep our country safe, and to keep dangerous drugs out,” said Gov. Tom Ridge, senior advisor to the ASAP coalition. “This new report shows why we need a comprehensive 21st century data collection system to address the flow of international fentanyl. In addition to addressing staffing shortages, it is critical that we also require AED on all foreign packages, as we do with private carriers, so that CBP officers can successfully do their job. Without AED on all packages, CBP’s work to stop foreign fentanyl will be like searching for a needle in a haystack. ”

“We need better systems in place and more resources for CBP to stop fentanyl from entering our country through the international mail system,” said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to the ASAP coalition. “While we cannot eliminate all security threats, AED is a commonsense solution to smartly target high risk shipments. HSGAC should support bipartisan legislation that mandates this basic security data for all international postal shipments.”

A bipartisan report from the United States Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) found that only 36 percent of foreign packages delivered by the USPS include AED, and that the limited data provided is too low quality to be useful. This leaves screening measures inadequate for handling the massive amounts of packages arriving in the U.S. – 1.36 million unscreened and potentially dangerous packages enter the country every day. As a result, PSI investigators found that online drug traffickers prefer and recommend the use of the postal system for shipping illegal drugs into the country.

The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP Act) would help provide CBP, security agencies and law enforcement with the data needed to effectively screen the massive number of packages entering the country, and stop those containing illicit material. The STOP Act currently has 32 co-sponsors in the Senate and 271 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, and is endorsed by those on the front lines of the opioid crisis, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the American Medical Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures.