Lawmaker Calls for Crackdown on International Mail Shipments of Opioids

Illegal opioid shipments are entering the United States from China via the Postal Service

Illegal opioid shipments are entering the United States from China via the Postal Service

"Just from these six websites, we identified more than 500 payments to online sellers by more than 300 Americans totaling $230,000, most of which occurred over the last two years", noted Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), chairman of the Senate committee. They were able to tie the six retailers to at least seven overdose deaths. Almost 40 per 100,000 people in the state now die from a drug-related overdoses in OH, due to the influx of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its analogs.

Postal and Customs authorities must do a better job at screening global mail shipments for opioids arriving in the United States via "Express Mail", Sen. Data in the Senate report shows no significant improvement during 2017 despite the urgency.

The US Postal Service has failed to install a system to identify advanced electronic data (AED) with regards to shipments destined for American arrival points, which would help US Customs and Border Protection agents spot suspicious packages.

Compounding the epidemic of opioid usage in the United States, which President Trump has declared a national public health emergency, a year-long probe by a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs investigations subcommittee discovered a gap in the mail service that allows Americans to purchase the drug easily over the internet.

AP reporters found multiple sellers willing to ship carfentanil - an opioid used as an elephant tranquilizer that is so potent it has been considered a chemical weapon. "Online fentanyl sellers engage in sophisticated sales techniques to offer exclusive products and discounts for bulk orders".

Researchers on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations also contacted Chinese sellers directly.

The investigation found that seven synthetic opioid-related deaths in the USA were linked to online sales specifically probed by the Senate subcommittee, The Guardian reported.

In one case, the investigators traced orders from an online seller in China to a MI man who wired $200 in November 2016. "When that 49-year-old man outside of Cleveland, Ohio dies of an overdose of fentanyl within a couple of weeks of getting his delivery, you realize we're not doing our job". Portman noted that fentanyl now kills more people in his home state than heroin. Because the United States Postal Service does not require shippers to send advanced packaging data, unlike other services like UPS and FedEx, Chinese distributors can easily send hundreds of pounds of illegal opioids through the worldwide mail system each year.

"The federal government can, and must, act to shore up our defenses against this deadly drug and help save lives", Portman said.

Latest News