OPINION|Phil Paleologos: USPS Unintentionally Runs Opioids
Buying fentanyl and carfentanil, which is a100 times stronger than fentanyl, is as easy as a Google search, credit card, and an address. And the U.S. Postal System is unwittingly failing to "recognize and prepare for" many transactions between Chinese sellers and American buyers, according to a jaw-dropping U.S. Senate report.
Imagine, with a simple click of the mouse, it's that's easy to buy the No.1 killer in the opioid crises. Money wires, PayPal, and major credits gladly accepted. One Chinese seller boasted his fentanyl was very good and that his clients love the quality as if he were selling vitamins or something.
"Sellers offered to send the drugs through foreign posts to U.S. mail, avoiding private couriers that require advanced data on packages and make them an easy mark for customs agents, said the investigators, working for subcommittee Senate Chairman Rob Portman of Ohio and ranking Democrat Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, to the Washington Times.
Portman has pinpointed the mail system as the weak leak in efforts to stem the opioids crisis. Although some drugs travel up traditional routes through Mexico, he said, the flow of substance from China is the biggest threat.
“We now know the depth to which drug traffickers exploit our mail system to ship fentanyl and other synthetic drugs into the United States,” Portman said. “The federal government can, and must, act to shore up our defense against this deadly drug and help save lives.”
In Massachusetts, a recent ruling has barred first responders and court employees from handling fentanyl because it's too dangerous, and workers have overdosed just by coming into contact with it.
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.
“The Postal Service is very different from commercial operators like UPS and FedEx because they have direct relationships with their international customers and can require them to provide advanced electronic data before accepting their packages,” Postal Spokesman David A. Partenheimer said. “The Postal Service receives international packages from foreign posts and must, therefore, secure cooperation from them, including through bilateral and multilateral negotiations, to obtain advanced electronic data.”
Well, the time is now USPS. It's time to shore up the weakest link in our system.
Editor's Note: Phil Paleologos is the morning host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6-10 a.m. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.