TAMPA, Fla. — Foreign drug traffickers are shipping deadly opiates directly through U.S. Postal Service, the ABC Action News I-Team found.
ABC Action News I-Team reporter Adam Walser uncovered the dangerous loophole in reports from the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General’s Office.
Now the federal government is now trying to crack down on the foreign drug shipments.
Federal agents say local drug dealers are getting their fentanyl from China.
“They’re purchasing fentanyl on the dark web. They’re purchasing it via the internet,” said DEA Supervisor Mike Furgason, a supervisor for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
And drug traffickers are no longer smuggling in drugs across the borders – they’re shipping it directly through the U.S. Postal Service.
“These are weapons of mass destruction,” said former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Over 70,000 Americans died last year.”
Ridge supports a new law called the STOP Act, which would require foreign senders to register packages before they are shipped to the U.S.
Private shippers – like FedEx and UPS – are already doing that, but the U.S. Postal Service does not require foreign package registration.
“It’s a loophole that has to be closed,” said Ridge. “Drug traffickers shouldn’t be able to access it so easily.”
More than 1.3 million foreign packages arrive at U.S. Postal Service sorting centers each day – thanks to the growth in online shopping – but only a tiny fraction is ever inspected.
Both houses of Congress have already passed the STOP Act bill, which was signed into law late last week.
The U.S. Postal Service said in a released a statement the agency supports the STOP Act’s goal and “is committed to working with our Congressional and Administration colleagues to ensure the nation’s mail security.”
But in order to make the new law work, foreign countries will also have to sign on to agreements with the U.S.
“And if they choose not to sign it and not to provide that advance security data, then we can have all those packages gather dust in some warehouse,” said Ridge.
South Tampa resident Dawn Golden, know firsthand the cost of the opiate epidemic.
Just weeks before graduation, her 17-year-old daughter Katie died from a drug overdose – believed to be a cocktail of heroin and fentanyl.
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“It doesn’t go away,” said Golden. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare – to lose a child.”
She now wears a tie-dye ribbon and a colorful bracelet honoring Katie, who was a self-taught pianist preparing to graduate from Plant High School.
Golden says nothing can bring Katie back, but she says the new law could prevent more deaths.
“I want something good to come out of this,” said Golden. “I feel like that’s my job.”
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