WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is seeking details from the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) about their efforts to stop illegal drugs from being mailed to the U.S. from China, Hong Kong and other foreign countries. McCaskill’s request focuses specifically on efforts to intercept shipments of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, one of the most powerful types of opioids. Committee Chairman Ron Johnson is joining McCaskill in her request.
“Fentanyl is now killing more Americans than heroin or any other opioid, and we should use every tool at our disposal to keep it from entering the United States,” McCaskill said. “I look forward to hearing more from the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and USPS about what we’re doing to stop deadly opioids from entering the country and what more can be done on this front.”
Partnerships between the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and USPS, as well as partnerships between the United States and foreign countries, can help to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. Shipments of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (which have very similar ingredients to fentanyl) are of particular concern, as fentanyl is one of the most powerful types of opioids. In the U.S., opioid overdose from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids almost doubled between 2015 and 2016 to nearly 20,000.
The State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and USPS all play important roles in reducing the flow of illegal drugs into the country. “The opioid crisis in this country has reached epidemic proportions, and it is a multifaceted problem that demands a whole-of-government approach to resolve,” the Senators wrote in their letters to the agencies. The Senators are seeking details on how the agencies encourage cross-departmental and international data sharing so that USPS can better identify suspicious packages and help partners overseas identify those trying to illegally ship drugs to disrupt the supply chain. The Senators are also requesting information on how extensive of a problem international drug shipments are and how agencies are doing at following current guidelines to address this problem.
Previously, McCaskill and Johnson requested details about what Customs and Border Protection is doing to stop illegal opioids from being smuggled into the country at ports of entry and the border. McCaskill also targeted opioid shipments from China at a Senate hearing earlier this year. McCaskill is currently leading the largest Congressional investigation to date into the opioid epidemic, requesting information from opioid manufacturers and distributors.