Our nation’s drug abuse problem is also a postal service problem

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer inspecting packages shipped from overseas at the Kennedy Airport International Mail Facility, where seizures of steroids from China are increasing. (John Munson/The Star-Ledger)

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer inspecting packages shipped from overseas at the Kennedy Airport International Mail Facility, where seizures of steroids from China are increasing. (John Munson/The Star-Ledger)

By George Landrith – May 6, 2016
With each passing day, news coverage is filled with reports about the unfortunate toll that many forms of drug abuse are having on our communities. The recent rise of the heroin epidemic is just the latest in a long string of vicious cycles of drug abuse claiming thousands of lives each and every year.

To aid the efforts made to halt the in-flow, transport and ultimately the use of such drugs, the Senate Government Oversight and Homeland Security Committee convened last week for a roundtable discussion titled, “Preventing Drug Trafficking through International Mail.”

Along with many pertinent questions posed by Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Heidi Heitkemp (D-ND), asked directly about the nature of the collaboration among our federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service.

“How do we improve that relationship? How do we staff these Postal inspectors with drug dogs with whatever we can to make sure that the Postal Office is not the delivery device for poison that basically resulted in deaths in my state and deaths in others states?,” she questioned.

Recent studies have also looked into this problem. An analysis by Lexington Institute highlighted how a large amount of synthetic drugs produced in China, are being shipped through its postal service, and then handed off to the US Postal Service for delivery inside the US. This continues to happen unbeknownst to the USPS, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and a number of other federal agencies who have responsibilities to curtail the flow of drug-laden packages.

LegitScript, a group that works to make the internet pharmacy and health product sector safer and more transparent, found in a recent study that the USPS is the “carrier of choice for illegal online pharmacies.” Out of 29 test purchases from illegal online pharmacies, all 29 packages reached their intended destinations through the USPS. Not one package was detected and flagged by the Postal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, or any other agency responsible.

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