- The Functional Government Initiative (FGI), a watchdog group, is suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to obtain records related to a Trump-era law that is intended to prevent drugs from pouring into the US en masse, according to a complaint.
- Former President Donald Trump signed the Synthetic Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act in 2021, which took years for DHS to implement.
- “With each passing day, more and more Americans are losing the battle against addiction, while Secretary Mayorkas and his top leadership prioritize opening borders and censoring Americans,” said FGI spokesman Pete McGinnis.
A watchdog group is suing the Biden administration over records they believe will shed light on why federal officials delayed implementing a 2018 law meant to stop the flow of illicit drugs into the US.
Former President Donald Trump in October 2018 signed The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which requires the US Postal Service (USPS) to report data on foreign packages to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and aims to combat drug dealing. Although the law appears to have been implemented in March 2021, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) is suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP to obtain the records, according to a September 9 complain Obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
FGI’s lawsuit relates to its February Freedom of Information Act requests to DHS and CBP, which sought communications between officials about the STOP Act and its implementation. The watchdog has received no documents, and CBP said it had no records related to implementation of the law.
The STOP Act states that USPS must use advanced electronic data (AED) on foreign packages beginning January 1, 2021, according to a the USPS inspector general. AED refers to data provided to CBP that would provide official information about senders and recipients, as well as the contents of packages. (RELATED: Border Patrol Calls in ‘Suicide Logistician’ to Address Rise in Base Suicides)
CBP was given a deadline of October 2019 to implement the STOP Act regulations. However, CBP missed its deadline, the agency said at a December 2020 congressional hearing.
At the 2020 hearing, Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman held down CBP and USPS on why you missed the deadline. Thomas Overacker, CBP’s executive director of Cargo and Transportation Security, said, “I’m not going to offer any excuses.”
CBP in March 2021 issued its interim regulations on the use of AEDs in foreign packages. Portman and Massachusetts Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar then demanded answers in December 2021 from DHS, USPS and the Department of State on why CBP officials told lawmakers that more than 130 countries have received exemptions for placing AEDs in packages.
The law appears to have been implemented but FGI is trying to find out why there was a delay. It is unclear which countries the lawmakers were referring to and whether or not they still have exemptions.
“DHS’s inability to finalize regulations and fully implement a bill that would help stop the flow of illegal opioids into the United States is staggering and frankly disappointing,” FGI spokesman Pete McGinnis told DCNF. “With each passing day, more and more Americans are losing the battle against addiction, while Secretary Mayorkas and his senior leadership prioritize open borders and censorship of Americans.”
Fentanyl and the importation of other drugs across the border have increasingly become a problem for the US, with CBP seizing 913,000 pounds of drugs in 2021, data shows Overdose deaths increased 31% between 2019 and 2020, according to a the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CBP also seized more than 600,000 pounds of drugs in 2022 and a record amount of fentanyl in 2022, according to agency data.
The passage of the STOP Act followed a congressional investigation. within Drug trafficking and how synthetic drugs like fentanyl get from China to the US via USPS mail. Portman and Delaware Democratic Senator Tom Carper led the investigation.
Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott wrote a letter in April 2022 to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, telling him of CBP’s official interim final rule on “still loopholes.” The senator said the rule has been delayed and China has still been able to send packages without AEDs.
“CBP should be focused on ensuring Communist China fully complies with the law,” Scott said. “There has been plenty of time for countries to prepare and comply with the law and the IFR should reflect that.”
DHS and CBP did not respond to requests for comment.
“This is the epitome of dysfunctional government,” McGinnis told the DCNF. “The public deserves answers on why implementation of the STOP Act is not a priority and when can we expect them to start recognizing the importance of fighting the opioid crisis.”
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