New legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday would attempt to stop synthetic drugs, like fentanyl and carfentanil, from being shipped into the United States.
Fentanyl and carfentanil – synthetic opioids – are mixed with heroin and have been linked to overdoses across the country, with an increased use in southern Ohio in recent years.
The new legislation, called the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, was introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
“Fentanyl killed more than 1,000 Ohioans last year, and carfentanil was the source responsible for 174 overdoses in Cincinnati in just one recent six-day span,” said Portman in a press release Wednesday. “The vast majority of these synthetic drugs are trafficked in places like China and India, often through the mail. If we require mail shipped through foreign postal services to send the same electronic advance data as private carriers like UPS or FedEx, we could save thousands of lives across the country.”
The STOP Act would modify Title 19 of the U.S. Code. That’s the law that governs customs duties for U.S. imports, and specific modifications would be made to the Tariff Act of 1930.
When merchandise comes into the United States, information or documentation is filed with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by the importer of record—either by the owner or purchaser of the merchandise, or by an appointed customs broker.
But for U.S. mail shipments, CBP by default becomes the importer of record and receives little to no advance information on what is in the mail shipments.
The new law would require the U.S. Postal Service to be an importer of record for shipments of non-letter mail coming into the country and mandate importer information to be registered with the U.S. Postal Service.
Any of those mail shipments would need advance electronic data, which would record who and where the mail is coming from, who it’s going to, where it is going, and what’s in it, according to Sen. Portman. With that information registered with the U.S. Postal Service, CBP would be able to target potential illegal packages that are inbound for the United States.
“The STOP Act will close a gaping loophole in our mail security, and it will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped across our borders. This common-sense policy change will save lives, and the Senate should move to consider and pass it as quickly as possible,” said Portman.
Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton