Chinese fentanyl sellers commonly use United States Postal Service (USPS) to traffic the drug into the United States because USPS and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have not yet adopted widespread use of advanced electronic data (AED), according to a Senate report released on Wednesday.
USPS currently receives AED on 36 percent of international packages, and CBP agents have to manually inspect more than 318 million international packages each year that have no AED, according to the report released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI).
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), ranking member of the subcommittee, said the bipartisan investigation revealed how “incredibly easy” it is to buy drugs online and ship them by mail.
“We have also learned how ill-equipped federal agencies were to prevent drug smugglers from taking advantage of a massive surge in recent years of e-commerce and international mail to ship synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, into our communities,” Carper said. “While progress has been made, much remains to be done. And unfortunately, there are no silver bullets that can solve this problem alone. Agencies like the Postal Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the State Department must redouble their efforts to keep illicit opioids from reaching our shores.”
The investigation has also identified seven synthetic opioid-related deaths in the United States, and 18 arrests on drug-related charges, to Chinese sellers operating online. Carper said it is “critical” that the United States work more closely with China “to demand they cut off the drug supply.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), chairman of the subcommittee, agreed that the investigation had revealed how much drug traffickers exploit the mail system.
“The federal government can, and must, act to shore up our defenses against this deadly drug and help save lives,” Portman said. “The STOP Act is one solution that will help, but we must do much more.”