Heroin Epidemic

Buchanan co-sponsors legislation to curb fentanyl sent in mail


U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan announced Friday he is co-sponsoring the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention, or STOP, Act, which would require more extensive screening for drugs through the U.S. Postal Service.

Fentanyl and carfentanil are the synthetic drugs that have been more and more responsible for the rise in overdose deaths, especially in Manatee County, and are said to be coming through the mail from China, Mexico and Canada.

Right now, Buchanan said the Postal Service doesn’t adequately screen non-letter packages. The proposed legislation, introduced by Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, would require shipments coming in from foreign countries to include electronic data on where and whom the package is from, where and to whom it’s going and the contents.

“If we want to save lives and reduce overdose deaths, we must stop these new killer drugs from crossing the border,” Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, said in a press release.

These drugs can come in different forms like powder, tablets and spray. Fentanyl is an opioid that can be 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, and carfentanil is said to be 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

As of late, fentanyl has been used to cut local heroin supplies or even replace it altogether. The introduction of the synthetic opioid has even put a strain on space for bodies at the morgue of the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office in Sarasota.

Manatee County Sheriff-elect Rick Wells said in the press release that the bill is important.

“It’s critical that we cut the head off of the snake and put an end to the destruction these synthetic drugs are causing in our communities,” Wells said.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse