Seizures of small lots of fentanyl arriving by mail increased sharply last year. “Your drug dealer today is your mailman,” says the father of one overdose victim.
Not long before Don Holman’s son Garrett died from an overdose in February, he learned his 20-year-old had his drugs delivered directly to their Virginia home in the mail, in packages from foreign countries, reports the Wall Street Journal. “Your drug dealer today is your mailman,” said Holman. Fentanyl and other synthetic narcotics like U-47700, which was found Garrett Holman’s system, are now streaming into the U.S. through international parcels delivered by the U.S. Postal Service and private carriers like UPS and FedEx, according to authorities. Lawmakers are proposing tougher rules and new resources to try to stop the flow.
Seizures of fentanyl arriving by both international mail and express carriers reached nearly 37 kilograms in the U.S. overall in fiscal 2016, compared with 0.09 kilogram five years earlier, according to Customs and Border Protection data. While Mexican drug cartels usually transport synthetic opioids like fentanyl in bulk by land across the southern U.S. border, many American dealers and users use the mail to receive smaller supplies of the drugs, officials say. In the past year, authorities have arrested such alleged dealers in cities including Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Kearny, N.J. With 621.4 million international packages and mail pieces arriving through the U.S. Postal Service alone in fiscal 2016, it is like finding a needle in a haystack.