- Fentanyl and U-47700, a synthetic narcotic, are often distributed undetected and unwittingly by mail or via UPS and FedEx, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The packages come from both American and international sources.
- In 2016, seizures of the illegal substances grew to roughly 37 kilograms, versus 0.09 kilograms in 2012. Customs and border patrol (CBP) officials use X-ray machines and visual scans to locate contraband in nine international mail facilities around the U.S., but with over 620 million international packages and pieces of mail arriving every day, it's an enormous job and a significant amount of fentanyl gets through.
- Lawmakers are proposing various methods to stem the influx of fentanyl, such as more advanced equipment or foreign data transmission to at least reduce the problem.
Though mail-order fentanyl from China is likely to dwindle thanks to the country's recent crackdown on the sale and manufacture of the drug, along with its stronger compatriots carfentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, acrylfentanyl, and valeryl fentanyl, makers and dealers of the opioid drug in all its newest versions will remain masters of reducing risk within their supply chain: they'll simply source elsewhere, like from Mexico.
The DEA and CBP continually attempt to stem the flow of synthetic opioids into the U.S., but the resourcefulness of those working within the illegal supply chain defeats efforts to stop them. Working from a previously acquired opioid sample, chemists are able to fashion comparable versions of the drug. The situation is an international regulatory nightmare, since anti-drug enforcement bodies are always playing catch up with whatever substitute the chemists create.
To more effectively stem the influx of opioids, there will need to be a concerted effort within the international pharmaceutical supply chain to crack down on illegal substances and perform routine security checks at distribution facilities and pharmaceutical labs. But tighter security needs to extend beyond pharmaceutical supply chains — logistics professionals play a pretty big role in the procurement of opioids, and since so much fentanyl is arriving in the U.S. via mail, post office workers, UPS and FedEx employees will need to start examining their own workflows and establishing new security procedures to slow the inundation of opioids. Until that happens, dealer resilience will continue and so will the opioid crisis.