One Year After STOP Act Passage, Fentanyl Continues to Flow into US

Washington, D.C. (October 24, 2019) – One year after the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, the federal agencies (including the U.S. Postal Service and Customs and Border Protection) charged with its implementation have missed the law’s deadlines. Described by the Washington Post as “one of the most consequential pieces of legislation” of 2018, the STOP Act was passed to close a loophole in the global postal system that has allowed drug traffickers to easily ship synthetic opioids to the U.S. without being stopped by law enforcement.

The STOP Act requires that all packages entering the U.S. through the international postal system include advance electronic data, or AED – vital security information that is already required for private carriers. Law enforcement officers use AED to screen and stop dangerous material, including fentanyl, from entering the country.

By the end of 2018, the postal service was required to have AED on 100 percent of packages entering from China, and 70 percent of foreign packages overall. In a bipartisan letter earlier this year, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE) highlighted that federal agencies had not met these requirements. Recent reporting in the Washington Post confirms the deadlines still have not been met, despite the widely recognized harm of continued fentanyl shipments.

Furthermore, the Postmaster General and the Department of Homeland Security were required to issue reports on their progress and AED compliance to Congress by December 24, 2018 and on April 24, 2019. These reports have still not yet been made public. The law also mandates that one year after its enactment – today – the Secretary of Homeland Security needs to have ordered the necessary regulations to fully implement the law. 

Even as fentanyl is recognized as increasingly responsible for overdose deaths and the synthetic opioid crisis is still growing, the postal loophole has allowed fentanyl to continue to flow into the United States. The STOP Act provides a clear solution, and Congress needs to exercise its oversight responsibility to ensure federal agencies meet all deadlines and account for missed ones.

“While we are thankful for the members of Congress who helped pass this crucial bill into law one year ago, the fight is not over, the opioid crisis continues, and lives are still being lost, said Juliette Kayyem, senior advisor to Americans for Securing All Packages. There is no excuse for the lack of progress in the last year, and Congress must hold our federal agencies accountable so we can turn the tide in this dangerous epidemic.”