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Postal Inspectors helping combat opioid epidemic

February 18, 2022
Opioids large story


The Postal Inspection Service is playing a crucial role in the fight against the flow of illegal drugs during the opioid epidemic.

The crisis started with prescription painkillers but is increasingly driven by illicitly trafficked synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, that are sold through online marketplaces and shipped through the mail and express consignment carriers.

During the 12-month period ending in June, more than 98,000 people died from a drug overdose, including more than 73,000 opioid-related deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

“We are implementing innovative investigative techniques and cutting-edge analytics. I am committed to working with our federal, state and local partners to combat this public health emergency,” Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale tells The Eagle magazine.

The Contraband Interdiction and Investigations, or CI2, program — composed of a team of cross-functional investigators and drug crime experts — leads the Inspection Service’s efforts.

The organization also works with other government agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and State.

While holding drug traffickers accountable, law enforcement is also helping with prevention and treatment.

If you are prescribed opioids for your pain, postal inspectors recommend you store them securely, use them responsibly and dispose of them safely; for addiction treatment, call 800-662-4357 or go to

If you know someone who’s mailing illegal drugs or has received them, call the Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.

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