Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jul 2017
Source: Philadelphia Daily News (PA)
Copyright: 2017 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.


Within the murky online corners of the so-called Dark Net, drug
dealers emphasize the best way to send their goods across the United
States is not via FedEx, UPS, or another private mail carrier, but
through the U.S Postal Service.

Last year, up to 59,000 opioid-related deaths occurred, making those
narcotics the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of
50. Many of the deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids, which
have flooded the market through mail orders from China using USPS.

One exported drug, the synthetic opioid fentanyl, is widely considered
one of the deadliest drugs in America. Fifty times more potent than
heroin and nearly 100 times more than morphine, fentanyl is believed
responsible for about 52 percent of Pennsylvania's 4,642
opioid-related deaths last year.

The drug is so powerful law enforcement and emergency personnel have
been warned to be careful when coming into contact with it. But its
potency is what makes fentanyl ideal for shipping. Small amounts can
be easily mailed instead of the larger quantities required with less
potent drugs.

Reddit, the popular digital chat forum, has become a hot spot for
people looking for advice on how to access Dark Net drug markets.
While avoiding scammers and law enforcement, customers can find the
best dealers - alongside stories of addiction, failed recovery, and
overdose deaths.

But the dealers don't always get away. The FBI arrested a southwest
Philadelphia man Thursday who was considered one of the nation's
biggest Dark Net fentanyl dealers. Unfortunately, the arrest of Henry
Koffie, also known as "Narcoboss," will likely cause only a lull in
the Dark Net drug trade.

It's too easy for the drugs to reach their ultimate destination.
LegitScript, a digital consulting company conducted an experiment in
which it made 29 orders of synthetic opioids to be sent to its office
in the United States. None of the test deliveries were seized by

The Postal Service should follow the lead of private mail carriers
handling overseas packages by electronically tracking basic
information, including the sender's name, address, and contents of the
package. That would provide enough information to help spot suspect
mail so U.S. Customs agents wouldn't have to sift through vats of
packages manually.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) introduced a bill last year, the STOP Act,
which would set aside billions of dollars to pay for the advanced
electronic equipment the Postal Service needs to flag suspect
packages. That wouldn't bring mail trafficking to an end. The Postal
Service says half the world's foreign countries don't provide the data
that needs to be tracked. Suppressing incoming mail also might prompt
some countries to block mail from the United States.

But the opioid epidemic has reached proportions in this country that
demand action on a number of levels, including passage of the STOP
Act. The Postal Service has been widely criticized over the years for
its lackluster performance and postage costs, but blame Congress if
it's not properly equipped to reduce the huge volume of narcotics
being mailed into this country.
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