A Much Heralded Fix to Prevent Opioid Trafficking Through the Mail Is Already At Risk

The U.S. Postal Service is failing to fully take advantage of the advanced data it receives about incoming international mail, according to a new report, putting in jeopardy a new reform heralded by Congress and the White House as a major step in addressing the opioid crisis.

“Advanced electronic data,” or AED, provide USPS and Customs and Border Protection with information about the contents of international packages before they reach the United States. A requirement for the data is already imposed on international packages coming into the country through private carriers like FedEx and UPS, but the mandate will apply across the board to international packages arriving through USPS starting in 2021 thanks to a measure President Trump signed into law last year.

Supporters of the measure were hopeful it would help stem the flow of illicit, synthetic opioids from foreign manufacturers through the mail system. The USPS inspector general, however, found the mailing agency does not always actually take action after CBP flags a shipment for additional review due to information included in its advanced electronic data. As of 2018, the Postal Service received AED on 57% of foreign packages.

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