Washington lawmakers tackling opioid shipping loophole

Gregory L. Smith of Seattle was charged Monday with importing fentanyl from China.

Fentanyl is an opioid 50-times stronger and more deadly than heroin.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, some of the 24 packages shipped to Smith were labelled "toy", "commercial samples" or "health products."

The packages included no reference at all to the deadly opioid inside.

Washington State Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-1) is co-sponsoring a bill that would strengthen the monitoring of packages sent to the United States by international government postal services – such as the packages allegedly sent to Smith over the past six months.

H.R. 1057 “would require foreign postal agencies to provide a manifest, electronic data about what’s in a package” DelBene told KIRO 7 on Thursday.  “Right now, they don’t have to.  That allows packages to get in that don’t get the same level of screening” that packages from private shipping companies are required to provide, she said.

Fentanyl is what killed pop-star Prince and 70 people in Washington state last year.

Because our nation's opioid crisis is growing, DelBene – a Democrat-- is one of 226 bipartisan congressional representatives co-sponsoring the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act -- or STOP.

Washington state Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Butler (R-3), Dan Newhouse (R-4), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5) are also co-sponsors of H.R. 1057.

DelBene told KIRO 7, shipments from foreign postal services are increasing --- many of them carrying cargo such as fentanyl -- because they don't have to supply accurate manifests.

Nearly one million mystery packages are coming into the U.S. every day, according to Americans For Securing All Packages, a coalition that supports the bill.

Not all of those estimated 1,000,000 packages contain fentanyl or other contraband, “but it does say that if you are trying to send something illegal to the US, you would probably use a foreign postal service because you know you don’t have to provide that information,” DelBene said.

“That’s why this legislation is so important, because it would block that door, that loophole.”