- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sen. Rob Portman is urging President Trump to use an upcoming summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to highlight the steady and deadly flow of powerful synthetic opioids from clandestine labs in Asia to the U.S.

Fentanyl and other synthetics are at least 50 times more potent than heroin and making an already tragic opioid epidemic even worse, according to law enforcement.

“There is no dispute that China is the largest manufacturer of illicit fentanyl and other dangerous synthetic drugs,” Mr. Portman, Ohio Republican, said in a letter to Mr. Trump. “During your bilateral meeting with President Xi, it is paramount that you send a clear message that the United States will work tirelessly to prevent fentanyl and other synthetic drugs produced in China from entering the United States.”

Mr. Portman says even though Congress passed major legislation last year to fight the prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic, the U.S. must do more to intercept fentanyl, carfentanil and other drugs that are flowing right through postal services in some cases.

Unlike at private carriers, such as FedEx or UPS, agents at U.S. Customs and Border Protection often don’t receive electronic data on packages from foreign postal systems in advance, according to Mr. Portman.

Mr. Portman is pushing a bill that would require foreign shippers to describe who is sending packages through U.S. mail, and where the stuff is going, before the packages enter the country. That way, agents could better target illegal drug shipments.

The bill has 11 cosponsors, including four Democrats and one independent.

Mr. Portman said the Chinese government has taken steps to crack down on illicit drugs, such as scheduling carfentanil, though more oversight of its pharmaceutical labs is needed.

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