Portman, Ayotte, Johnson introduce STOP Act to curb synthetic drug trafficking

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would curb the trafficking of synthetic drugs.

The Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act would help prevent the trafficking of synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States from outside the country.

Portman said that fentanyl killed more than 1,000 people in Ohio last year, while carfentanil was recently responsible for 174 overdose cases in Cincinnati in a six-day span.

“The vast majority of these synthetic drugs are trafficked in places like China and India, often through the mail,” Portman said. “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.”

Under the bill, shipments from foreign countries through the postal system would have to be accompanied with electronic advance data about their origin, sender, destination and what is inside of the package.

“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,” Ayotte said. “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.”

The trafficking of synthetic drugs, Johnson said, kills Americans and must be stopped.

“Fentanyl, an opioid, is 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin and has already been responsible for 30 deaths in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, in the first three months of 2016,” Johnson said. “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.”

Additionally under the bill, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) would be required to promulgate regulations that designate USPS “the importer of record” and subject it to filing documentation with CBP.

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