Portman, Johnson, Ayotte Introduce Legislation to Address Overdose Spike From Synthetic Opioids

September 7, 2016 | Press Releases

STOP Act Will Close Loophole, Help Stop Dangerous Synthetic Drugs From Being Shipped Across Our Borders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today introduced the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, new legislation designed to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States.

“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,” Senator 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 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.”

“The trafficking of synthetic drugs through the mail is killing Americans. We must put an end to it,” said Senator Johnson. “Fentanyl, an opioid, is 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin and has already been responsible for 30 deaths in Milwaukee County, Wis., in the first three months of 2016. As part of my ongoing work to address the impact of drug trafficking on our public health and national security, I am proud to join my colleagues Sen. Portman and Sen. Ayotte in introducing the STOP Act. This bill will help law enforcement better screen for deadly synthetic drugs, including fentanyl, which are currently being imported into our communities through the mail. We must put a stop to drug trafficking, and this bill is a positive step in that direction.”

“In addition to focusing resources on prevention, treatment, and recovery, a fundamental part of our comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic must include efforts to cut off the supply of dangerous drugs – like fentanyl and carfentanil – coming to our country, often from China,” said Senator Ayotte. “Our bill will strengthen postal rules for packages shipped through the United States Postal Service, bringing them in line with requirements applicable to private shippers. These requirements will help law enforcement more quickly gather information when tracking and interdicting an illegal shipment and help us more effectively stop dangerous drugs from reaching traffickers inside our borders.”

NOTE: Fentanyl and, increasingly, carfentanil are causing a spike in overdoses and deaths around the country.  China and India have been cited as the primary source countries for illicitly produced fentanyl and carfentanil in the United States.  Companies based in these and other foreign countries take advantage of weaknesses in international mail security standards to break U.S. customs laws and regulations by shipping drugs directly through the U.S. postal system.  Unlike UPS or FedEx, the U.S. Postal Service does not require advance electronic customs data for the vast majority of mail entering the United States. Because of the volume of mail, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) cannot manually scan these packages and stop illicit goods from crossing our borders. 

The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act is designed to stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders.  Specifically, the bill would require shipments from foreign countries through our 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—before they cross our borders and enter the United States.  Having this information in advance will enable CBP to better target potential illegal packages and keep these dangerous drugs from ending up in the hands of drug traffickers who want to harm our local communities.

Additional information on the bill includes a fact sheet, section by section and the bill text.