U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other lawmakers Tuesday introduced the newest version of the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention, or STOP, Act as part of effort to restrict the flow of powerful synthetic opioids into the country via the U.S. Postal Service.
China and India have been been identified as primary sources of the fentanyl and carfentanil being trafficked in the United States, according to news release from Rubio’s office. Companies in China and India take advantage of the U.S. Postal Service, which unlike UPS or FedEx, does not require advance electronic customs data for the vast majority of incoming international mail.
Rubio, along with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., introduced the Senate’s version of the bill. A similar bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“We know lethal synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and carfentanil are being shipped in from outside the United States, and they are increasingly contributing to the devastating opioid abuse epidemic we are facing in Florida,” Rubio said in an issued statement. “From Palm Beach to Sarasota to Orlando to Pensacola, fatal overdoses attributable to heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil are destroying families and communities. I’m joining my colleagues in reintroducing this bipartisan legislation because we need to do everything we can to stop these drugs from entering the country.”
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Fentanyl is a powerful pain medication 100 times more powerful than morphine. One of its synthethic forms, carfentanil, is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine and used as a large animal tranquilizer. Both drugs have been cut into the heroin supply or passed off as heroin, causing a spike in overdoses — many fatal —across the country.
Manatee County is at the epicenter of the epidemic in Florida.
If the new legislation is adopted, it would require information such who and where the package is coming from, who it’s going to, where it is going and what’s in it before it could be allowed in the country. With that information, Customs and Border Protection, which cannot normally scan all packages because of the volume, will be able target potential illegal packages.