04.07.19

SCHUMER REVEALS: CHINESE TRAFFICKERS’ OPIOID ASSEMBLY LINE RELIES ON JFK’S MAIL PROCESSING FACILITY & USPS TO KEEP ROLLING; ILLICIT DRUGS THAT ESCAPE DETECTION AT JFK END UP ON THE STREETS OF NYC & LI; SENATOR PUSHES NEW & NEEDED FED FUNDS TO ADD DETECTORS, OTHER PROTECTIONS AT JFK THAT PUT A WRENCH IN CHINA’S SUPPLY CHAIN & COMPLEMENT NEW SANCTIONS

This Past Week, Schumer Formally Unveiled First-Ever Fentanyl Sanctions Bill On China Traffickers; Bill Now Has Big GOP Backers & Is Gaining Steam To Stop Manufacturers & Traffickers That Cook-Up Formulas Of Death & Then Ship Them To America & Use USPS

But Schumer Says To Achieve Max Impact & Truly Crack Down On Opioid Scourge, Bi-Partisan Sanctions Bill Must Also Be Accompanied By ‘At Least $5 Million’ Fed Investment Into JFK Mail Facility; POTUS Has Requested $16M Nationally And NY Needs At Least 30%

Schumer: We’ve Got To Stamp ‘Return To Sender’ On Every Fentanyl Delivery From China—And JFK Is Where To Start     

With momentum --and now strong bipartisan support-- building for his fentanyl sanctions Bill on Chinese manufactures and traffickers who cook-up --and transport-- formulas of death onto the streets of New York and Long Island, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is pushing a plan to beef-up New York’s fentanyl firewall: JFK airport. And the local post offices it supplies. Specifically, Schumer wants New York to receive at least 30% of a $16 million dollar just-proposed by the administration fund (page 23) to enhance opioid detection equipment and safeguards across the Country.

“As the biggest International mail processing facility in the Nation, JFK should be New York’s fentanyl firewall and filter out illicit fentanyl and other opioids at our local post offices. We need to both beef it up and make sure it has the real-time tools to meet everyday demands,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We know China’s opioid assembly line to New York and Long Island starts at JFK, but it can end there, too, and that is what tough sanctions accompanied by new fed funds can help us deliver: a wrench to China’s opioid supply chain."

Specifically, while continuing the push for his fentanyl sanctions Bill on China, Schumer announced he will add a New York-specific request to his bipartisan, national plan: critical detection and infrastructure upgrades at JFK’s international mail processing facility, the largest in the nation.

Schumer announced his intention to push for new and needed funds at JFK’s mail processing facility of “at least $5 million dollars.” Schumer explained the President’s just-proposed budget sets aside $16 million nationally for these kinds of upgrades and that New York needs at least 30% of those funds to put a wrench into China’s opioid distribution model.

Schumer explained that the funds would help increase and upgrade detection equipment at JFK, including hand-held devices and other x-ray-esque technology that identifies opioids well-packed and disguised to look like everyday packages, like new shoes.  

“I am pushing for at least $5 million in specially-targeted fed dollars for JFK’s mail processing facility, which is about 30% of what the president has allocated nationally in his proposed budget. However, I will try to get even more than this as the appropriations process plays out, because JFK’s facility needs continuous upgrades to keep pace with fast-changing methods by traffickers. We need more canines, staff, new infrastructure to the processing facility, and state-of-the-art detection equipment to fully disrupt the opioid supply chain,” Schumer added.

Schumer also announced the latest GOP backers of his fentanyl sanctions Bill, and said that first-ever sanctions on China for their role in the Nation’s opioid crisis are hopefully on the horizon. Current GOP backers of Schumer’s fentanyl sanctions Bill include: Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Ranking Member and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). Democrats include Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Shaheen (D-NH).

Specifically, Schumer’s fentanyl sanctions legislation would:

  • Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. 
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids.
  • Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign opioid traffickers.
  • Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

In the fiscal year 2017, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) made 118 seizures of illicit fentanyl totaling approximately 240 lbs. in the express consignment carrier [ECC] environment and 227 seizures totaling approximately 92 lbs. of illicit fentanyl at international mail facilities (IMFs). The majority of illicit fentanyl at IMFs and ECC locations is shipped in purities of over 90 percent, whereas the majority of fentanyl seized within the land border environment is seized in purities of less than 10 percent. A single kilogram of fentanyl (2.2lbs) purchased in China carries the potential of being lethal for five hundred thousand people.

According to the NYC Department of Health, there were 1,441 unintentional drug overdose deaths in New York City in 2017, compared to 942 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015-- an increase of roughly 53% in only two years. Approximately four fatal drug overdoses occurred each day in New York City in 2017. Opioids are involved in more than 80% of all overdose deaths, and heroin was involved in 751 (54 percent) fatal overdoses in New York City in 2016. Fentanyl was involved in 44 percent of all fatal overdoses in 2016. This data suggests that more New Yorkers die of drug overdoses than homicides, suicides, and motor vehicle crashes combined. Schumer, today, said these numbers are proof positive of how critical it is to tackle fentanyl as its origin point of China.

The heroin epidemic has also hit Long Island especially hard. According to Newsday, in 2018 there were 110 opioid overdose deaths in Nassau County, and 373 opioid overdose deaths in Suffolk County, with the total number of deaths adding to 483.

Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019. However, China already has problems enforcing its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.

According to CBP, fentanyl seizures are trending up.  During 2016, the first year CBP started tracking fentanyl seizures, officers seized 440 pounds nationally.  That number grew to 951 pounds in 2017, and 984 pounds through the end of April 2018.

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