Is a loophole in postal service security fueling the opioid crisis?
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's been six months since President Donald Trump stood inside the east room at the White House and declared the opioid epidemic a National Public Health Emergency. Since then, various details have been released about the president's plan to combat the crisis.
Most recently, Trump made a declaration suggesting certain drug dealers should be sentenced to death. The president has also voiced support for the closure of a loophole that allows unscreened parcels to enter the United States.
Former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Director, Tom Ridge, is a senior advisor for the Americans for Securing All Packages coalition, a group pushing legislation aimed at closing that loophole.
According to ASAP, one million packages are shipped into the U.S. every day without Advanced Electronic Security Data, or AESD. This information typically describes the contents of the package and is entered by the sender before a package is shipped.
"The STOP ACT says if you send a package to the United States, you have to put this advanced information so we can run it through our algorithm and pick parcels from the Post Office rather than just random selection," Ridge told WBTV.
Fentanyl, one of the most dangerous opioids, has been linked to thousands of deaths across the country. It often ships to the United States from China. Ridge refers to the drug as "weapons of mass destruction."
"The number of deaths associated with Fentanyl or Carfentanil exceeds those who died of gun violence and those who died of an automobile accident," Ridge said.
While private carriers like FedEx and UPS require AESD, the United States Postal Service does not, making it easier for traffickers to send contraband from one person to the next. Ridge says traffickers know that.
"There are actually instructions on the dark web. When they tell those who would procure or buy these drugs, don't send it through a private courier because you have to send advanced electronic data, send it through the postal service," he said.
While there has yet to be a vote on the STOP ACT in either the House or the Senate, Ridge says there is bipartisan support for the effort. And while he knows this legislation isn't a cure for the crisis, he believes it's a start.
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