Portman says his bill would help block mail shipments of synthetic drugs from abroad

Posted at 1:53 PM, Sep 07, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)  says he is co-authoring a bill to try to prevent shipments of dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from reaching the United States through the mail.

Portman said the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act will close a loophole that allows foreign traffickers to take advantage of weaknesses in international mail security.

Unlike UPS or FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service does not require advance electronic customs data for the vast majority of mail entering the U.S., Portman said. Because of the volume of mail, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) cannot manually scan all packages.

The STOP Act would require shipments from foreign countries through the U.S. postal system to provide electronic advance data - such as who and where it is coming from, who it’s going to, where it is going, and what’s in it, Portman said. That information would enable CBP to better target potential illegal packages, he said.

“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,” Portman said. “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 billis co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

SEE WCPO's special coverage: "Heroin in the Tri-State."