Portman, Klobuchar, Rubio, Hassan Introduce Legislation to Address Overdose Spike From Synthetic Opioids

February 14, 2017 | Press Releases

Bipartisan 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), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today introduced the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, bipartisan 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.  Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives today as well.

We have a heroin and prescription drug epidemic in our country, and this crisis is being made worse by an influx of deadly synthetic drugs coming into our states from places like China and India,” said Senator Portman. “Drug-traffickers are lacing heroin with fentanyl and other synthetics that are up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, getting more people addicted and causing the recent spikes in overdoses that we have seen in Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, and towns all over Ohio. The STOP Act is designed to help stop these deadly drugs from reaching our communities, which will help save lives around the country. I urge the Senate to act quickly.”

“Dangerous synthetic drugs that find their way into our communities from overseas through the postal system continue to claim the lives of teenagers and adults in Minnesota and across the country,” Senator Klobuchar said. “In the face of these tragedies, we need to step up efforts to stop these synthetic drugs from coming across our borders from foreign countries in the first place. Our new bipartisan legislation will give law enforcement the tools they need to help curb the trafficking of synthetic drugs and keep them out of the hands of our children.”

“We know lethal synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil are being shipped in from outside the United States, and they are increasingly contributing to the devastating opioid abuse epidemic we are facing in Florida,” said Senator Rubio. “From Palm Beach to Sarasota to Orlando to Pensacola, fatal overdoses attributable to heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil are destroying families and communities. I’m joining my colleagues in reintroducing this bipartisan legislation because we need to do everything we can to stop these drugs from entering the country.”

The spread of fentanyl on our streets is exacerbating our heroin and opioid crisis, killing people faster with smaller amounts, and the importation of fentanyl through the postal system is making our efforts to combat this crisis more difficult,” said Senator Hassan.More than 70 percent of confirmed New Hampshire drug deaths in 2016 involved fentanyl, and increasing the oversight of packages from countries where we know fentanyl is coming from via the mail is essential to stemming the tide of this epidemic. By requiring the U.S. Postal Service to meet the same standards as private companies when accepting international packages, we can help prevent these illegal drugs from crossing our borders. I hope our colleagues will work with us to pass this legislation without delay and work with the Postal Service and other agencies to effectively implement the statute.”

“Ohioans have seen a sharp increase in levels of fentanyl, and the impact of this drug is devastating and has taken far too many lives.  The law enforcement community supports efforts to keep the supply of fentanyl out of our country,” said Jay McDonald, President of Ohio Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and Vice President of National FOP.  “The STOP Act is one way we can make a common-sense policy change to improve the data available to law enforcement trying to identify fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic drugs entering the United States.  Congress should pass the STOP Act and continue to work with law enforcement to better understand the day-to-day challenges of the opioid epidemic.”

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.