China & US Join Forces To Stop Postal Service Drug Trade

The Opioid Express Illegal Chinese-made drugs entering US via regular mail

The Opioid Express Illegal Chinese-made drugs entering US via regular mail

Compounding the epidemic of opioid usage in the United States, which President Trump has declared a national public health emergency, a year-long probe by a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs investigations subcommittee discovered a gap in the mail service that allows Americans to purchase the drug easily over the internet. Online sellers exploit loopholes in the global mailing system, such as shipping the packages to foreign nations prior to shipping them to the USA, to get the drugs in the country. This illicit drug trade has essentially found sufficient loopholes in a government service that has failed to fully implement an electronic data system that will help detect suspicious shipments.

Focusing its attention on six Chinese providers located in China out of hundreds, the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee said it was able to identify 500 online purchases of fentanyl, primarily in powder form, that had an estimated street value of around $766 million. "Online fentanyl sellers engage in sophisticated sales techniques to offer exclusive products and discounts for bulk orders".

Drug overdoses killed 60,000 people a year ago, according to government estimates, driven in large part by the influx of fentanyl and its analogs from overseas. The surge in fentanyl also explains why the opioids death toll continues to spike, even as doctors and policymakers work to rein in the use of prescription painkillers.

Yet by subpoenaing financial transactions and other sleuthing, investigators tied their sextet of sellers to 500 transactions by more than 300 individuals in the US, totaling $230,000. First responders in OH administered roughly 43,000 doses of naloxone in 2016. The report proceeds to state that the majority of the illegal distributors' customers resided in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, where it is likely that domestic drug distributors are "acting as a distributor for an internationally-based website that advertises synthetic opioids for sale on the open web". Rob Portman told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.

Investigators identified seven people who died from fentanyl-related overdoses after sending money and receiving a package to one of the targeted sellers.

Opioids are killing a record number of people in OH, which now has the second highest death rate from drug overdoses in the USA, behind only West Virginia.

Mr. Portman is pushing a bill that would force foreign postal systems to send advanced electronic data before packages reach the U.S.so agents can better target those that may contain narcotics. However, customs officials do not receive information on all packages shipped through the United States Postal Service.

Portman wants to require that every package headed to the USA include automated data with the sender's name and address. "The Postal Service receives global packages from foreign posts and must therefore secure cooperation from them, including through bilateral and multilateral negotiations, to obtain AED".

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