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Senators Warn of Vulnerabilities Allowing Drug Traffickers to Ship Illegal Narcotics

U.S Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have sent a letter urging the Biden administration to take additional action to tackle the rise in illegal opioids entering the U.S. 

Specifically, the senators called on the administration to fully implement the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP Act), their bipartisan legislation enacted in 2018 to decrease fentanyl shipments by reducing the number of countries exempted from this law. This letter follows Portman and Klobuchar’s December 2021 letter urging the administration to fully implement the STOP Act’s requirements and ensure that any exemptions issued meet the strict requirements outlined in the bill.   

“Congress passed the STOP Act to prevent illicit drugs, including fentanyl, from entering the United States through the United States Postal Service. The bill requires the Postal Service to provide Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with advance electronic data (AED) on international mail. CBP then uses this data to stop fentanyl and other illegal opioids before they can make their way to communities,” the senators wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “These requirements help to save lives…We must do everything possible to stop fentanyl and other illicit opioids from entering the United States…As CBP begins to re-evaluate waivers for 2023, we urge the Department to exercise restraint and ensure that any waivers issued meet the strict requirements outlined in the STOP Act. If waivers do not remain a temporary exception, we can expect illicit mail traffic to shift to waiver jurisdictions.” 

In 2018, Senators Portman and Klobuchar’s bipartisan STOP Act became law. The STOP Act helps to reduce the supply of fentanyl shipped into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service by requiring AED on all inbound international packages. As then Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Portman conducted an 18-month investigation and released a bipartisan report detailing how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in the U.S. international mail system to easily ship synthetic, illicit narcotics, like fentanyl, from China into the United States through the U.S. Postal Service. 

Read the full text of the letter

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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