Deadly synthetic opioids coming to US via 'dark web' and the postal service

Close to 1 million packages without any electronic information that could flag the presence of illicit synthetic opioids enter the U.S. every day. The unchecked imports could be fueling the rising rates of deaths due to illegally obtained synthetic opioids, according to the Boston Globe.

While Congress authorized prior electronic screening of incoming packages 14 years ago, the policy has not been fully implemented.

"[The problem] is as disruptive to our country as any terrorist act has been," Juliette Kayyem former assistant Homeland Security secretary, told the Globe.

Fentanyl — which is 50 times more potent than heroin — is largely manufactured in China, but processed and packaged in Mexico prior to being smuggled into the U.S. by drug cartels. However, this isn't the only way the deadly opioid finds its way into American communities. A large amount is purchased online via the dark internet where illicit materials are peddled via websites and shipped through the U.S. Postal Service.

According to the Globe, in 2015 the consulting firm LegitScript made 29 purchases from illegal online pharmacies to test the effectiveness of the process. All 29 of the packages were delivered by the Postal Service without interference.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) has been working with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on a resolution from the Foreign Relations Committee calling on the federal government to make stopping the influx of illicit fentanyl a high priority in American relations with China and Mexico.

"Donald Trump will need to understand that you cannot just build a wall to keep fentanyl out of America," Sen. Markey said, according to the Globe. "We're going to need a much closer working partnership with the Mexican and Chinese governments if we are going to be successful, and they need to understand that we mean business."

Nearly 13,000 people died of heroin-related overdose deaths last year, surpassing gun homicides as the more prolific killer. A contributing factor in the rising rates of heroin overdoses is the proliferation of deadly fentanyl-laced heroin.

More articles on population health: 
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Drugmakers push new 'abuse-deterrent' opioids — unclear if they will reduce overdoses

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