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Congress Investigates Use of Postal Service To Smuggle Opioids Into US From China

by Countable | 1.30.18

What’s the story?

A congressional investigators on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations spent over a year discovering and documenting how Chinese sellers have been using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to ship fentanyl and other synthetic opioids direct to U.S. buyers.

The committee uncovered that USPS failure to fully implement an electronic data system that would help authorities identify suspicious shipments is the reason the illegal drug sales have slipped through. The USPS has committed to expanding implementation, but has to negotiate with foreign partners, which slows down the process.

Chinese official Hua Chunying, following the release of the committee’s report on January 24, made a statement that China is willing to fight along with U.S. law enforcement to crack down on the illegal shipments, reports the Miami Herald:

"Anti-drug coordination is one of the highlights of China-U.S. law enforcement cooperation. We stand ready to work with the U.S. to enhance our coordination in this field."

The massive growth in shipments to the U.S. from China due to e-commerce is further complicating USPS efforts to identify suspect packages. The report found in 2017 their efforts were not improving, though the USPS disputes those findings.

The Senate investigators traced the online sales shipped through the USPS from China to seven U.S. opioid deaths and 18 drug arrests. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), committee chair, insisted that the federal government must take action to protect the public:

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

What do you think?

Do you support federal efforts to stop the influx of opioids entering the U.S. through the Postal Service? What other efforts to combat opioid deaths do you think should be getting support and attention? Is your community struggling with the opioid crisis? How is your community handling it?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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