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Which Packages Contain Illegal Drugs? Why the Post Office May Not Know

Why the former director of Homeland Security says packages coming in should have data going in front of them.

STATE WIDE--When U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions was in Indiana last week, he told law enforcement officers and prosecutors that he believes fentanyl is the biggest drug threat to the United States. That drug is coming into the country, mostly, through the U.S. mail, and the Post Office should stop it, said Tom Ridge, former director of Homeland Security.

"I read there was a takedown in Kokomo," he said, referring to drug raids there in the past two years. "This is organized crime. They've got weapons at the ready. This is big business for some elements of organized crime."

Ridge is now associated with a bi-partisan group that is putting pressure on the U.S. Postal Service, to require advance electronic data on all packages coming into the country. That requirement is called the STOP Act, and has already passed the U.S. House, could pass the Senate this week or next, and would likely get the president's signature to become law, said Ridge.

"Because of a loophole...you have that delivered primarily from China, with very little chance of it being detected before it ends up on our streets," said Ridge, who pointed out that fentanyl is so powerful that just two grains of it is enough to kill someone.

"It's a huge issue. It's a weapon of mass destruction! Addiction deaths last year were about 72,000. The surge was related to fentanyl."

In Indiana 1,840 people died of drug overdoses in 2017, said data from the CDC. The data wasn't broken down into what drug caused the most deaths. But, fentanyl has been a big part of the opioid problem in the state, which Pres. Trump declared a national health emergency.

Ridge said the basic info that should be required in advance of packages coming into the country is who's sending it, where it's going, the weight, etc. Ridge said algorithms can help determine what might be in the package, and inspectors would know to look at those packages more closely.

"The same information is required if you're sending it through a private express carrier." Ridge said if UPS or FedEx can do it, so should the Post Office. "We feel quite confident this would substantially reduce the abuse of the Postal Service in sending these illicit drugs into our country."

Ridge said getting the Post Office and all of the associated officials to force other countries to comply will be tough, even if the STOP Act is signed into law.

"Frankly the Post Office has had the opportunity to demand compliance with some of the bilateral agreements we have with other countries and they haven't done it."

But, he said the group he represents will continue to put pressure on Congress and the Post Office to make it happen, and to hopefully slow the shipments of fentanyl into Indiana and the U.S.

PHOTO: IStock/Cybrain

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