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tv   Opioid Epidemic and Mail System Vulnerabilties  CSPAN  January 25, 2018 10:03am-12:45pm EST

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this hearing will come to order. thank you all for being here. today's hearing continues the permanent subcommittee on investigation's work to combat the opioid epidemic that is gripping our country. this congress, the subcommittee
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held a hearing on the growing problem of individuals buying illicit opioids over the internet and shipping them to the united states through the mail. the opioid crisis, sadly, continues to get worse, not better. last month, the center for disease control reported that more than 63,000 americans died in 2016 from drug overdoses. indications are that number increased in 2017. these overdose deaths are shocking. the number of deaths continue to grow. my own home state of ohio, we were told recently is now second in the country in terms of overdose deaths. it's heartbreaking. and increasingly, these overdoses are due to a synthetic heroin, illegal versions of fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to
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100 times stronger than heroin. in fact, in ohio, fentanyl and its variations were involved in 60% of the overdose deaths last year. so, it's become the number one killer in ohio. the vast majority of illegal fentanyl is purchased online from labs in china and then shipped to the united states through the mail. we'll hear from the drug enforcement agency today about that. but i think it's shocking to people when they find out that this is coming through our u.s. mail system. last night, the subcommittee released its bipartisan report. i hope you all have seen it, how criminals exploit vulnerabilities in international mail and use the u.s. postal service to ship illicit opioids into our country. without objection, i would move that the subcommittee's report be read into the record. after our initial 2017 hearing, we set out to find out how easy it is to purchase fentanyl online. and how it was shipped to the united states.
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what we discovered, of course, was it was shockingly easy to do so. all you had to do was search "fentanyl for sale." that simple search returned hundreds of websites, many affiliated with chinese labs, all openly advertising illegal drugs. the field was narrowed to just six websites, and we sent e-mails asking basic questions about how to purchase and ship fentanyl. to the united states. these online sellers were quick to respond, unafraid of getting caught, apparently, and ready to make a deal. you'll see that in the report. they offered discounts for bulk purchases, even tried to upsell us to a more powerful synthetic heroin that is so strong it's used as an elephant tranquilizer. ordering these drugs was as easy as buying any other product online. i must note our subcommittee never completed a purchase of drugs online. it was just too dangerous to risk exposing someone to deadly fentanyl during delivery, but we did use the online seller's
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payment information to determine if others were buying. and of course, we found out they were. just from these six websites alone, we identified more than 500 payments to online sellers by more than 300 americans, totaling $230,000, most of which occurred over the last two years. so this is just a small sample. only six websites, and then frankly, we used just one payment system to be able to identify some of these buyers. the 300 people, by the way, were located in 43 different states with individuals in my home state of ohio, pennsylvania, and florida sending the most money to online sellers. the map that we have back here behind us shows the concentration of where most of the purchases were made. that's also in the report. we also asked how the online sellers, whi sellers would ship the drugs to us. every single one of them preferred to use the u.s. postal service. they didn't want to use the
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private carriers like dhl, fedex, u.p.s. they wanted to use the postal service. they told us they use the postal service because the chances of the drugs getting seized were so insignificant that delivery was essentially guaranteed. we were also able to track hundreds of packages related to these online purchases. we identified seven people out of the 300 who died from fentanyl-related overdoses after sending money to and receiving packages from these online sellers. one of these individuals who died was a 49-year-old ohioen from the cleveland area who sent about $2,500 to an online seller, received 15 packages through the postal service over a 10-month period. his autopsy confirmed that he died from acute fentanyl intoxication just weeks after he received a package from this online seller. by analyzing more than 2 million lines of shipment data obtained in our investigation, we located 3 individuals in the united
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states who were likely distributing these drugs. we identified more than 120 instances of different people sending a payment to an online seller in china and then a day or two later receiving a package from one single pennsylvania address. the person at this pennsylvania address, by the way, was working with the online seller to domestically trans-ship drug purchases. shipping data reviewed during the course of the investigation also indicated other individuals who purchased items to make pills, including pill presses, chemical bonding agents and empty pill casings. it's not surprising that people are ordering fentanyl online to sell. the profit margins are just staggering. based on dea estimates, the street value of the online transactions from just the six websites the subcommittee investigates translates to about $670 million in fentanyl pills to sell on the streets of our communities. we're already working with law enforcement authorities to make sure these drug dealers will be brought to justice and will continue to do this after this
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hearing. but our findings today show the crucial role advanced electronic data can play in protecting our country and fighting the opioid epidemic. we also need some legislative changes. last year, the postal service only received advance electronic data on about 36% of the more than 498 million international packages coming into our country. so, about 500 million packages a year and only about 36% of them have the advanced electronic data that allows law enforcement to identify these suspicious packages. this means that about 318 million international packages came here with no data, therefore no ability for customs and border protection or other law enforcement we'll hear from today to target these packages for screening. we didn't know with regard to 318 million packages, who sent it, where it was going, what was in it. and this is a massive loophole that's undermining the safety and security of our country.
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in addition, the data we do get from foreign post that we review during our investigation appears to be of questionable quality. so, it's only 36%, but even much of that data is not helpful. at times, the data was nothing more than illogical lines of letters and characters entered by someone who didn't understand how to construct a standard american address. when we have the data, the postal service fails to locate it about 20% of the time. so again, electronic data, 36%, much of that data's not very helpful, and even when law enforcement says, aha, we've got a package here that looks like it's suspicious, we'd like to look at it, 20% of the time, they can't find the package. it gets through. what we are left with is a federal government whose policies and procedureses are wholly inadequate to prevent the use of international mail to ship illegal synthetic opioids
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into the united states. in contrast, our postal service provides data on about 90% of the packages that it ships to foreign post. so, about 90% of what we soend o -- send out, we do provide that electronic data to foreign governments. after september 11th, 2001, the terrorist attacks on that day, collecting advance electronic data was identified as a national priority. for all the right reasons. in 2002, in fact, congress required private carriers to collect this data, so u.p.s., fedex, dhl, others were required to collect it. it was left up to the discretion of the postmaster general and the treasury department with regard to the postal service. they were encouraged to do it, encouraged to study it, but it was left up to their discretion. for more than a dozen years, nothing happened, essentially, leaving customs and border protection to manually expect target packages which is the
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equivalent, of course, of finding a needle in a hay stack. again, 500 million packages, then, it wasn't that many but hundreds of millions of packages. to their credit, the postal service and cpb started a pilot program in late 2015 to target suspicious packages from china using advanced electronic data, but our investigation found a lack of planning, the different missions of the agencies, and personality conflicts hampered the success, even of the pilot program that was started in 2015. that pilot program, by the way, started at jfk and our investigators were able to see that in action. despite these problems, the postal service is head of global trade compliance wrote that pilot programs allowed them to put a positive spin on stopping opioids. while both cpb and postal service agreed the pilot program should be rolled out to all postal facilities, they only
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started that after the may 2017 hearing. we're glad they did it. we learned that this process was conveniently completed just days in advance of this hearing. so, earlier this week, again, i think, this hearing probably motivated some action, which is good, but it should have been a priority without having to hold this hearing. it shouldn't take a congressional investigation into the postal service and what's happening with international mail to get our government to do its job. one part of the solution is more data. and that's why we've introduced this synthetic trafficking and overdose prevention act or the s.t.o.p. act. which would require data on packages shipped through the postal service. we have 29 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle and i know this report and hearing will put pressure on us here in the senate to finally take some action. i really want to thank senator carper and his staff for working with us so closely on this
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investigation. there's a lot more to be done to turn the tide of the opioid addiction, clearly, but stopping these deadly drugs from ever reaching our streets is certainly a good start. as the co-author of the comprehensive addiction recovery act, i focused most of my career, actually over the last 20-some years on prevention, treatment, longer-term recovery. that's all important. but to keep this poison from coming into our communities is something we can do and should do. just in the past week, near toledo, ohio, five individuals overdosed and three died. fentanyl-related overdoses. it's so bad that officials issued an opioid advisory warning to the public, begging them to stay away from what was clearly a, quote, bad batch of opioids in northwest ohio. how many more people have to die before this poison stops coming into our communities? before we take the steps -- the
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simple steps to at least understand where the suspicious packages are, how to get them offline, and not delivered to a p.o. box here in america. how many people have to die before this happens? yes, the postal service is in desperate need of comprehensive reform, and nobody has been more involved with that than senator carper. but it's shocking that we are still so unprepared to police the mail arriving into our country. again, i want to thank senator carper and his staff for working so closely with us. chairman of the full committee has now joined us. senator johnson. i'm going to ask him if he has any brief opening remarks and i turn it over to the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for your ongoing leadership on what is really a tough issue, an important issue and challenge facing our nation. delighted to be joined by our full committee chairman today too. i want to thank our staffs, democrat and republican staffs, you know, fair amount of discussion of late about how we don't work together on this
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issue, we work together. we are one. and there's no space between us on this issue. frankly, on a lot of others. i want to thank our witnesses for joining us today, for the work that you do, for the work that is done by the people who are your colleagues. it's an oversight hearing. this is also the result of an investigation. a big part of our job on full committee is to do oversight. broadly over the federal government. this is oversight and investigation on something that we all care deeply, deeply about. no state has been immune from the damage that these drugs have caused. including my home state of delaware. i'm an ohio state native. i used to think delaware was a little town north of columbus, but it turned out to be a whole state and i've been fortunate to represent them for a while. but whether it's delaware or ohio or the state of delaware, this is an enormous challenge that we face and it's an all hands on deck moment and requires an all of the above
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strategy and it's not enough just to deal with the symptoms of the problems, and we'll be talking about that today, but also the root cause of these problems. we've got to do both. according to the division of forensic science in my state, more and more delawarens are dying from opioids every year. 2014, we lost 222 people. 2015, we lost 228 people. 2016, we lost 308 people. they're not just numbers. they are mothers and fathers, they are brothers and sisters, they are sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, all of the above. just last month, it was reported that emergency responders in our largest county -- we only have three -- but our largest county, where my wife and i live, newcastle county were dispatched to a reported drug overdose every 80 minutes. by early november of last year, paramedics there had administered naloxone -- they had administered to nearly 600
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patients. all told, opioids are now the leading cause of drug overdose deaths, killing more than 42,000 people nationwide in 2016 chblt. last year, our subcommittee set out to learn what the federal government is doing to stop these drugs from entering our country. in may, we heard testimony from officials from the postal service, from customs and border patrol, from the state department in addition to several experts and first responders on the ground in ohio. delaware and elsewhere who grapple every day with the impact opioids are having on our communities. they told us how opioids are getting into our communities through the mail and how they're working together to stop that. unfortunately, i left that hearing very concerned that the federal response was proving to be insufficient. our investigation shows that progress has been made, but also that we have much, much more to do. in fact, their findings are, in a word, alarming.
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we found that fentanyl and other even stronger synthetic opioids are openly available for sale, as the chairman has said, on the internet, accessible to anyone who knows how to shop online. and once purchased, these drugs arrive primarily from china through the international mail system. while sellers auoften prefer th postal service, they often offer shipment through private carriers like dhl, fedex, and u.p.s. through our work, we obtained key payments and shipping data that enabled staff to link online sellers to fentanyl-related deaths and drug-related arrests all over the country. we even found what paappears toe a major opioid distributor in pennsylvania, where delawarens reportedly get most of their drugs. it's cbc's mission to keep these drugs from entering our country. that mission has unfortunately become increasingly more difficult as the number of inbound international packages has skyrocketed.
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i would like to say, i think the chairman mentioned need until a hay stack. when you're looking for a needle in a hay stack, there's a couple things we can do about it. one is make the needles bigger or make the hay stacks smaller and we need to do both of those. but the postal service alone, volume has nearly doubled growing from about 150 million pieces in fiscal 2013 to nearly 500 million in calendar year 2017. until recently, cbp was forced to sift through this massive number of packages from the postal service manually. today, automation and the use of advanced electronic data has improved the targeting of data but the process is far from efficient and effective. our investigation revealed that a 2015 joint postal service cbp pilot project at jfk airport suffered due to the agencies' differing mission, a lack of awkward nation and interagency
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conflicts. as a result, the expansion to the four other mail processing centers was delayed until just this week. in addition, despite the massive amount of drugs coming into our country through the mail, the postal service and cbp only target a small number of packages each day. meanwhile, as our report points out, our efforts to get cbp data, that it needs to better target suspicious mail items and intercept opioids and other contraband has also not kept pace with the volume of drugs that cross our borders. unlike private carriers who control which packages enter their networks and have more freedom to turn away problem customers t postal service is required to delivered all the mail it receives from foreign post. this is due to the country's membership in the universal postal union or upu, an international body that sets global mailing standards and ensures that americans can send mail to friends, to family, to business partners, overseas. state department represents the u.s. at the upu proceedings, and
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while the postal service has made some progress in obtaining better information on packages through bilateral agreements with foreign post, the state department has watched for more than a decade now as some of our foreign partners have successfully fought efforts requiring more information on international packages. it is urgent that the postal service and cbp work together, work together, to continue ramping up their targeting and inspection efforts and that the postal service and the state department speed up international efforts to get cbp the data that it needs. at the same time, those of us in congress need to ensure that the postal service has the resources that it needs to be a stronger partner. as my colleagues are aware, protecting and improving the mail system in this country has been one of my priorities, biggest priorities, on this committee. posting service is vital to our economy and as our work creates it plays an important role in our fight against the opioid epidemic as well. yet it faces insolvency and the
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congress does not pass comprehensive postal reform this year. the enactment of this legislation will free up billions of dollars that the postal service can use to not only invest for the future, provide better service, but also to shore up mail security. all of that said, if we only focus on chasing drug shipments after they've entered our mail system, we'll only address the symptoms of this problem. we also need to focus on what i described earlier as the root causes. to truly do that, we mustards our country's considerable demand for drugs. as we know, health care plays a vital role in combatting the addiction that drives drug demand and medicaid is the country's single largest payer for substance abuse disorder services. many states with the highest opioid overdose death rates have used medicaid to expand treatment access. mine is one. ohio is another. we need to focus even more on making sure that our health care system has the resources that it needs to provide quality treatment to those suffering
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from this epidemic. and as we consider root causes, it's also clear that we need to engage with china, the biggest source of illicit opioids entering our country, in order to successfully disrupt the supply of fentanyl and similar drugs. we did something like this during the obama administration through high-level dialogue on cyber security and hacking and given the success that that bilateral partnership had, this administration should commit at higher levels to a similar effort to tackle this urgent public health crisis. with that in mind, i'm reached out to terry, our ambassador to china, former governor from iowa, we served together as governors, to gauge the level of engagement of our embassy and our team in china toward working with the chinese to say, hey, this is a problem. not just a problem for us but some day it's going to be a problem for you and you need to get your act together in order to help us but ultimately to help you guys. this reminds me of the importance of leadership in
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addressing complex challenges like the ones we're discussing today. it's no silver bullet that can solve this problem and none of the agencies represented before us can do it alone. we need leadership from the top. last month, the president established a commission charged with studying the opioid epidemic and determining how to fight it and then in october, he officially declared the crisis a public health emergency. despite these high-profile moves, news reports suggest that only a couple of the commission's 56 recommendations have reportedly been implemented. we can do better than that. further, the office of national drug control policy, the entity charged with coordinating the federal government's counterdrug response, still does not have a permanent director. i'll say that again. still does not have a permanent director. and recent media reports indicate that the president's upcoming budget will again propose a 95% cut in the budget of the office of national drug control policy. on a day when we're going to be -- when we're going to be
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critical of some front line agencies for what appears to be a lack of focus and a sense of urgency about a real crisis, i think it's only fair to call on the president for what appears to be a failure to make that crisis the priority that it should be. let me just close with -- we have something in delaware we call the three cs. communicate, compromise, collaborate. and we've added a fourth "c," civility. that's something in short supply around here, but not on this committee. we need to embrace something like the two or three cs as we fight this epidemic and one of those is to communicate and we're doing that here today. another is to collaborate. do it with a little bit of civility. and if we do that, we'll make some progress and we certainly need to make that progress. again, i'll close by saying this is an all hands on deck moment. all hands on deck moment. this is an all of the above strategy that's needed. and as best -- as well as we do
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in our jobs, we always know we can do better. our goal is infperfection. we can do better here and we need to in the spirit of cooperation. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your leadership. >> thank you, senator carper. you mentioned the presidential commission on opioids and the recommendations. one, the recommendations was enactment of the s.t.o.p. act that we talked about earlier. if you have a brief opening statement, happy to have you be heard now. thank you for being here. mr. chairman, do you have a statement in >> just thank you for your leadership on this. my own nephew died of an overdose in january 2016. there's probably -- it's probably gotten to the point where there's very few americans that haven't been touched in very personal ways, pretty close connection to somebody who's died of some kind of overdose. it's a very complex problem. i want to thank you and your staff have done an excellent job preepg th
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preparing this hearing, the briefing. i want to thank the witnesses for your service to this country. it is complex. i think one of the things we do need to do in addition to what you're proposing here, greater information, you know, i have a bill stopping overdoses of fentanyl analogs. it's one of the real problems is scheduling these just minute differences in terms of analog drugs and immediately scheduling those. there's so many things we need to address here. but it starts with identifying a problem, properly defining it, and highlighting in hearings like this. so again, i just want to thank everybody involved in this. it's not easy. but these are tragedies that, again, we all have talked to far too many parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters who have lost their beautiful sons and daughters, you know, grandsons, granddaughters, brothers and sisters. so, we got to do everything we can. so just thank you for your leadership. >> likewise, thank you for your passion and leadership. well, again, to the panel, thank you very much for being here. we'll now turn to now. we've got some real expertise
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here and some great public servants to talk through this issue and figure out how we begin to stop some of this poison coming into our communities. the first witness is joseph murphy, the u.s. government lead for international postal policy issues, heads the u.s. delegations to the meetings of the universal postal unions, postal operations council that we've spoken about previously. mr. murphy previously served for three years as the u.s. permanent representative in united nations office in nairobi. robert cintron is with us, vice president of network operations in april of 2016. in this position, he oversees the postal service's distribution network, including overall network design, policies, and programs for processing sites, logistics, required to move the mail, and maintenance policies and programs that support that network. mr. cintron began his career 33 years ago as a clerk in rochester, new york. thirdly, we have todd owen who is the assistant commissioner.
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he was named to that position in 2015. he oversees more than 29,000 employees, including more than 24,000 cbp officers and cbp agriculture specialists. he manages operations at cbp's ports of entry and numerous programs that support national security. mr. owen began his career with the u.s. customs service in 1990 as an import specialist in cleveland, ohio. great start. william is with us. he currently serves as the acting deputy inspector general for the postal services office of inspector general. he joined the inspector general's office in 2003. he previously served in both the united states secret service and in the air force office of special investigations as a special a agent. daniel baldwin currently serves as a section chief within the drug enforcement's administration. in this role, he supports dea's
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global efforts in africa and asia. prior this this assignment, he served in beijing, china, so he has good experience in china. in 1991, he received his bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from the university of denver. finally, gregory is with us. gregory serves as the deputy assistant director for the illicit trade, travel, and finance division within homeland security investigations, hsi. plchlt nevano has oversight of all financial documents, benefit fraud, criminal gang exploitation, as well as several targeting infusion centers. prior to this assignment, mr. necmr. mrmr. mr. nevano nevaserved in i.c.e. gentlemen, under the rules of this committee, we swear in all of our witnesses. please stand and raise your right hand.
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do you swear to the testimony that you give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. all of your written testimony, gentlemen, will be placed in the record in its entirety so i would ask you to limit your prepared remarks here this morning, your article testimony to five minutes. and mr. murphy, we'll start with you. >> thank you, sir. chairman portman, ranking member carper, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the invitation to appear before you today to discuss our efforts to increase the availability of advanced electronic data for international mail items. the universal postal union or upu is the principal international venue where the department of the state discharges its responsibilities related to international postal policy. so, my remarks will center on efforts underway within that body to expand the change of
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aed. these efforts have a long history, a key moment of which was the amend the upu to adopt and implement security strategies that include the principle of complying with requirements for providing electronic advanced data. developing the implementation measures for this amendment has been a top priority for u.s. delegations at upu meetings ever since. our efforts, which include many hours of work by colleagues at usps and the department of homeland security are now bearing fruit and there has been recent rapid progress on this front. in february of 2016, the upu's postal operations council, the poc, adopted regulations for the 2012 convention amendment and also a road map for the implementation of those regulations. the united states co-chairs with india the postal operations committee that oversees much of the work required to reach the road map's milestones. these milestones include final adoption of the technical messaging standard for item level data and the poc met this
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goal when it approved an item attribute message standard in its most recent meeting last october. in combination, these two developments, the regulation and the standard, enable upu member countries to impose requirements for aed. upu members must do so, however, in a manner that is consistent with the real world capability of the global postal network. accordingly, the focus is now on building capacity. at the global level, this entails building out other elements of the upu's messaging and data flows. this work is progressing well, but will only have utility if the postal operators develop the capability to collect the data and to use the tools available to them. the needed in investment in skills and technology is happening and it is being greatly helped by a sea change in attitudes which has come to understand that communications tools are essential to the future of the postal sector. consequently, members have endorsed several initiatives aimed at positioning posting
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operators in developing countries to exchange aed. for example, over half of the upu's development cooperation budget for the 2017/2020 period is devoted to a project that aims to make posting services in developing countries operationally ready for e-commerce. this project has, as one of its key performance indicators, the goal of supporting 80 postal operators to be exchanging aed for some portion of their flow by the end of 2020. in addition, the upu is almost implementing a second project focused narrowly on security with an emphasis on capturing and transmitting aed. participants in this project, all developing countries, are self-funding with money that was held in trust for them by the upu. the integrated product plan, or ipp, which the most recent upu congress adopted will also help accelerate aed exchange. the ipp's goal is to modernize the upu's product offerings -- >> can i ask a favor? i'm not very good on acronyms.
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u.p.s., i'm pretty good on that. fbi. i'm pretty good on that. don't use so many acronyms. actually say the words. >> yes, sir. all right. >> be an admonition for everybody else as well, okay? >> the -- >> within your five minutes. universal postal union. >> the integrated product -- can i use upu? all right. okay. the integrated product plan's goal is to modernize the upu's product offerings to beftter met the changing needs of customers and supply chain partners. phase one facilitates the exchange of aed since one of its -- advanced electronic data -- since one of its provisions is to have a upu standard bar code label. important work is being done but there's more to do, as senator
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carper mentioned in his opening statement. al olympi although the upu has the stated goal of having all postal services with the ability to exchange item level data by the end of 2020, there's a difference between the technical ability to exchange data and the realized ability to collect and scott baio s enter it. there is real rapid progress at the country and the global levels. although the work of enabling all countries to comprehensively exchange the full range of aed is a long-term undertaking we're confident that by 2020 the united states will be receiving aed for most of the mail entering the country. >> thank you. mr. cintron. >> good morning, chairman portman, ranking member carper, and members of the subcommittee. thank you, chairman portman, for calling this hearing. my name is robert cintron. i oversee the postal service's national distribution network, including its operations at the
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international service centers known as iscs. last may, i testified before this subcommittee on our effort to combat opioids in the mail, highlighting the collection and receipt of advanced electronic data known as aed. together with our federal agency partners, we're committed to aggressively and increasing aed for packages coming into the united states in order to improve the targeting and the illicit drugs and other contraband. in the past three years, the postal service has gone from receiving almost no aed on inbound shipments to receiving more than 40% as of december 2017. we are now testing data that will allow us to target more package volume from china. this data will result in a significant increase in the amount of aed the postal service receives by the end of 2018. since january 2017, the number of countries sending aed to the postal service has grown from 8 to 23 and includes china and
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other countries of interest. we have prioritized obtaining aed from the largest volume foreign postal operators, which collectively account for over 90% of all inbound volume. we now require aed on packages where rates are established under bilaterally negotiated arrangements. we currently have bilateral agreements in place with postal operators in australia, canada, china, hong kong, and korea. additionally, other foreign posts have entered into voluntary data sharing agreements to facilitate the exchange of aed, bringing the total to 56 countries. while the postal service and cbp have distinct responsibilities at iscs, these responsibilities complement our shared goal of fighting the importation of synthetic opioids. in september, the postal service and cbp completed a memorandum of understanding to solidify our
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interagency partnership. additionally, the program initiated at the new york isc to use inbound aed to facilitate more advanced targeting by cbp has been expanded to all iscs. over the last six months, the postal service has provided hundreds of thousands of records per day to cbp and expanded the number of countries and types of packages available for targeting. we have also implemented an automated process to identify targeted pieces, requested by cbp. additionally, we provided further training to isc employees to reinforce proper processes for handling and presenting mail in accordance with cbp requirements as the postal service continues to advance mail-sorting technology, these successes will grow. to further improve the federal government's coordination of oversight over inbound
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international items, the postal service, cbp, and the fda formalized an interagency work group. the group is working on efforts to build capacity to provide aed, develop detection technology, continue information sharing, provide technical assistance for legislation, and improve physical and i.t. infrastructure. we also continue to work in close collaboration with our law enforcement branch, the inspection service, which has seen significant improvements in its ability to seize fentanyl and synthetic opioids. from fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2017, the inspection service achieved a 375% increase in international parcels seizures and an 880% increase in domestic parcel seizures related to opioids. in conclusion, we share your concerns about illegal drugs and
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contraband entering the country through the mail and commercial carriers. the postal service is committed to taking all practical measures to ensure our nation's mail security and provide the american public the best, most efficient service possible. again, thank you for this opportunity to testify. and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. cintron. mr. owen. >> chairman portman, ranking member carper, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the role of u.s. customs and border protection in combatting the flow of dangerous, illicit drugs into our country. as the unified board security agency of the united states, cbp plays a critical role in our nation's efforts to keep dangerous drugs from entering our communities. cbp interdicts drugs and other dangerous items at our ports of entry, including multiple mail and express courier facilities by leveraging advanced electronic data, augments systems and by using various
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types of detection technology, all as part of our multilayered risk-based approach to enhance the security of our borders. since i last appeared before this committee in april of 2016, cbp, working collaboratively with the postal service and our law enforcement partners, has made strong progress in enhancing our enforcement capabilities and our effectiveness in the international mail and express courier environments but more must be done. recent bilateral agreements regarding advanced electronic data have increase cbp's ability to target high-risk shipments. in april of 2016, cbp was receivi receiving advanced electronic data an a limited basis from only ag countrieight countries. today we are receiving data from 23 countries with another 6 countries in testing. currently, cbp receives aed on over 40% of mail and work continues internationally to increase the volume and the accuracy of the aed provided to
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the postal service. through these pilots, cbp has enhanced our automated targeting capabilities and has worked with the postal service to develop protocols to ensure that every shipment selected by cbp for examination is, in fact, presented for inspection. last summer, cbp and the postal service signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at increasing the level of advanced electronic data while aligning inspection processes. in the past year, cbp has increased our staffing at the six main international mail facilities by 20% and all cbp narcotic detection canines have now been trained to detect fentanyl, adding another detection capability at our ports of entry. once detected, these substances must be positively identified. in the past 18 months, cbp has deployed identification testing equipment so that officers can quickly determine what the unknown substances are.
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the average fentanyl seizure in the international mail environment is only 700 grams and arrives as an unknown powder. cbp officers must have the technology enabling them to quickly and safely identify these unknown substances. cbp has increased the availability of such testing equipment and is appreciative to congress for the recently passed interdict act which will allow us to add testing equipment and further strengthen our enforcement efforts. the fentanyl detected primarily arrives from china and is over 90% pure. cbp has deployed the necessary personal protective equipment to safely inspect and process these narcotics. we have also deployed naloxone so if our officers our or canines are accidentally exposed to these deadly substances, we can quickly administer these treatments to save their lives. and lastly, substantive and timely information sharing is critical to the targeting of shipments containing illicit
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drugs. cbp's national targeting center collaborates with partners on a daily basis, including hsi, the dea, fbi, members of the intelligence community, and the postal inspection service. these investigative relationships are critical in delivering consequences to those trying to smuggle narcotics across our border. in closing, we are seeing an increase in interdiction as a result of the efforts that i have outlined. in fiscal year 2015, cbp seized 50 pounds of fentanyl in the international mail and express courier environments. in 2016, 81 pounds of fentanyl were seized in and in fiscal year 2017, 335 pounds were seized. already this fiscal year, at our largest international mail facility at jfk airport, cbp officers have made more fentanyl seizures in the first three and a half months than they have in all of last year so despite the success, much more still must be done. we must continue to increase the level and accuracy of the advanced electronic data being provided. we must further refine our
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targeting capabilities while working with the postal service to ensure that every parcel selected for examination is presented to cbp. we must find a technological solution which can quickly examine parcels without having to open the packages and we must work with our law enforcement partners to siidentify and dismantle those criminal networks bringing these illicit narcotics into our communities. distinguishes members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. owen. >> good morning, chairman portman, ranking member carper, chairman johnson and members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting me. as background, our organization has conducted substantial audit work on inbound international mail operations and security. we've issued eight reports since september 2015 and made 21 recommendations to the postal service, covering areas such as enhancing systems and processes, providing better employee training and oversight, and improving coordination with cbp,
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other agencies and foreign posts. the postal service agreed with 18 of the recommendations and have already addressed 12 of them. we also have two ongoing projects focused on advanced electronic data and opioid safety preparedness at the postal service. in addition to this audit work, we're building our data analytics capacity to find and prevent drug trafficking through the mail. for years, law enforcement has used data to find criminals and expose their networks. early efforts focused on financial crime due to its complexity and the large data sets available and just as criminal misused financial institutions to commit fraud, today's drug traffickers are misusing the u.s. mail. the postal service faces a number of challenges that private companies do not when dealing with illicit narcotics in the mail. for instance, the postal service is obligated to deliver international parcels even though it did not originally receive them from the customers. the postal service receives limited electronic data about many of these parcels and the information it does receive is often incomplete or accurate. in addition, the sheer volume of inbound parscels the postal
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service handles far exceeds the private companies. they require a warrant to inspect the contents. this principle is being exploit bid the criminals. parcels. rapid growth of domestic and international parcels is occurring. they must rely on delivering 105 million parcels a year, more than 14 million a day. it is easy for illegal drug parcels to hide in all of that. the data the postal service used to manage this can be used to sniff out parcels. we have gun doing that. our acting inspector general testified about some of our work in this area. she described a case involving an international parcel containing fentanyl. it uncovered a postal employee who was facilitating elicit narcotics in florida.
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our analyzed work identified nearly 2800 additional suspicious parcels. we have assisted other federal investigations involving these parcels. we identified a number of additional reshippers unknown to law enforcement and responsible for thousands of suspicious shipments. while supporting individual cases is useful, we are also dedicating resources to build tools to address narcotics issues more broadly. we recently completed the development of a tool to identify postal employees who may be stealing or facilitating. unlike legitimate customers, we have yet to receive our first complaint from a drug dealer that their parcel was missing. we have had to rely on tips for this. now, we are analyzing postal service data and looking for indicators to focus on carriers or routes where suspicious parcels are disappearing.
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it may revolutionize the way we tackle these krilcrimes. we are building a tool to identify inbound suspicious parcels. we are hoping to share this with cdp to reduce the number of narcotics parcels that enter the mail stream. the results we have tested appear promising. combatting the shipment of illegal drugs is not a problem any one agency can solve. cross-agency collaboration and data sharing is critical. we need to identify and intercept these parcels before they are delivered rather than focusing on investigating after the fact. one part of the solution is using data effectively to uncover problems. that's only half the battle. resources to address the problems are needed. for example, our tool to identify employees, identify hundreds of suspicious postal routes. we are not staffed to address all of these immediately. the challenge is going to get
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worse as our budget gets smaller. it highlights the need to invest in the tools and people to help this problem. we can help government and law enforcement focus on areas of greatest impact. thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work. i am happy to answer any questions. >> mr. baldwin. >> good morning, chairman johnson, chairman portman, reining member harper and other members of the subcommittee. i am a special agent, dan baldwin, with the drug enforcement administration where i provide support to offices in asia and africa. prior to this, i was the country a attache in china. it is an honor to speak with you. i would like to touch on two things this morning, the enormity of the problem and what we are doing to address the threat. first, the problem. over the last several years, dea
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has ep countered a dangerous new trend, the convergence of the opioid epidemic and the synthetic drug threat from china. in 2016 alone, 42000 americans lost their lives due to an opioid overdose. we all likely know squun womeon has been affected. fueled by fentanyl, which is cheap to make and dangerously potent. it can be purchased for $5,000 and the profits can be beyond $5.2 million. it is often sent via express mail from china, found this heroin, counterfeit drugs. 2 milligrams of this substance
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is deadly. often times, users don't know they are taking it. countering the threat, dea's mission is to disrupt and dismantle the highest priority drug trafficking threats. for decades, we have maintained a worldwide presence to take the fight to the source. in this case, china is the primary source of both fentanyl and the precursors used to make it. over the past decade, our relationship with china has progressed. as recently as three years ago, many of the synthetic drugs we were encountering in the united states were not controlled in china. they had no legal authority to assist us in our investigations. however, through continued engagement by dea and doj, highlighting this deficiency, it has improved. china controls ten substances
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and 116 new substances. chinese control has an immediate effect on the availability of these drugs in the united states. we are also encouraged by recent discussions with chinese drug control officials and the prospect of scheduling fentanyl as a class. this would eliminate the need to control fentanyl-related s substances one by one. in 2017, the department of justice indicted two chinese nationals responsible for manufacturing and distributing elicit fentanyl in the united states. they have been designated as consolidated priority targets, deemed the most significant drug traffickers but the department of justice. the dea and agencies coordinate with the national targeting center to enhance investigations in the sharing of information. one outcome was the recent
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takedown of alpha bay in 2017, one of the largest known dark net markets facilitating the purchase of elicit fentanyl. it anticipates the opening of the office in gong-jo, china. it will facilitate greater collaboration along the border where fentanyl and other drugs lead in route to the united states. we have seen some progress working with our chinese counterparts and are hopeful it will continue. here in the u.s., we will continue our collaboration and are passionate about our cause and driven by those families and individuals that have been directly impacted by this crisis. thank you for the opportunity to testify before your committee on this important issue. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. baldwin. >> good morning, chairman portman, chairman johnson, ranking member harper and
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distinguished members. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the opioid crisis in the united states and the efforts of u.s. immigration and customs enforcement, homeland security to disrupt and dismantle the criminal elements responsible for manufacturing and distribution of dangerous opioids. as the largest investigation agency within the department of homeland security, i.c.e. investigates and enforces more than 400 criminal statutes. they use this authority to investigate cross-border activity and work in close collaboration with u.s. customs and drug protections and the united states and postal inspection services in a unified effort with both domestic and international partners to target trans national criminal organizations supplying dangerous opioids to the u.s. i would like to highlight fen
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tan n tanyl coming into the united states. we have identified china as a primary source. their precursors are most often produced in china shipped by mail carriers directly to the united states or to mexico. once in the western hemisphere, fentanyl or its analogs are prepared and mixed into the u.s. heroin supply domestically or pressed into pill form and then moved to the u.s. market where demand for prescription opioids and heroin remains at epidemic proportions. mexican transnational criminal organizations receive shipments of fentanyl to supply the elicit u.s. market. these sophisticated organizations utilize existing smuggling routes and a u.s.-based infrastructure to get it to the end users. f
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fentanyl seizures from mail facilities are higher in purity levels and often unadulterated. it is shipped in purity concentrations of over 90% where as the majority of fentanyl in the land border is seized in purity concentrations of less than so10 percent. we can easily purchase elicit opioids like fentanyl online and have it shipped dpreirectly to their homes. they recognize the vulnerability of the mail system and exploit the great volume of mail transiting into the united states. recognizing the need to proactively target online fentanyl trafficking, the i.c.e. center is identifying on going investigations facilitating the coordination of online investigations. i.c.e. is fully engaged with the dea special operations, cbp national targeting center to
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identify shipment routes that may contain opioids and to fully exploit financial and investigative intelligence. our border enforcement security task forces are i.c.e.'s primary platform to investigate opioid smuggling. they operate in 57 locations. in response, i.c.e. established an area in memphis, tennessee, embedded in a mail consignment facility. it targets opioid shipments on a daily basis and engages in control delivery of elicit parcels to identify end users and disrupt and dismantle regional smugglers. it will continue to expand the best platform to enhance our nationwide efforts. i.c.e. has made significant strides in fiscal year 2017 in combatting the fentanyl epidemic
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as evidenced by a 400% increase in fentanyl seizures. there is no single solution or government entity that can stop the flow of dangerous and elicit opioids like fentanyl into the united states or keep them from harming the american public. tackling this complex threat involves a united, comprehensive and aggressive approach across law enforcement, interagency lines and collaboration with experts in the medical, science and public health communities. i.c.e. will continue to improve the informational sharing to address challenges and threats posed by elis sicit narcotics. i would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you. i thank all the witness. we are going to have lots of questions for you. we have a number of senators that are here that are not going
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to be able to stay for the entire time. i am going to be very brief and turn it over to them. let me say to summarize what you are saying. mr. navano talked about the need for this to be an aggressive approach. i have not seen the urgency over the past many years. we talked about this with the state department for many years, ten years. we have been talking about it with our international partners and evidence that we were able to uncover that it is still not going at the rate we would like. we have slowed to a crawl in our efforts, as an example. we know there are over 300 million pack annaages coming he without any data. we need that to be able to stop it. my questions will be along those lines to give you the opportunity to think about it. without that, i will turn it over to the ranking member and we will ask questions and have
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as many rounds as we need to be able to get all the information out today. >> anybody here that needs to have some your jepurgency to be places at once and you would like to go ahead? no. go ahead. >> senator langford. >> gentlemen, i appreciate you being here. mr. murphy, you had mentioned by the end of 2020 the advanced electronic data, we should be capable of gathering that. then, you hesitated and said just because we are capable doesn't mean we are doing it. help me understand the next level of that. when are we actually gathering the data by the end of 2020, not just capable? >> thank you, senator. that's correct. what is happening in the text is the tools are being put in place and capacity is being built so
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that countries have the ability if they have the data to send and receive. the bottleneck is at the country level in collecting the data and entering it. >> what's the time frame for that? >> that is yet to be determined. >> is that 2025, 2030. i don't understand that. >> countries are going to begin deploying requirements for aed, as they are now entitled to do. those requirements need to be calibrated to the capabilities of the sending countries. it is going to be a driver of further deployment. there isn't at this point a firm deadline by which every country must be able to send that. >> the deadline is the capability by 2020 but no deadline for when they actually have to do it. >> there is no deadline established at this time, senator. >> how do we get that? >> i think we need to be guided
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by our own information needs as we assess what it is we want to ask for and then tailor our requests around the partners and that they get the information they are looking for in a timely way. >> mr. baldwin and mr. navano, a question for either of you. i am trying to work through the process of not just picking up the seller, which is exceptionally important to this, but also the buyer that this is headed towards. how do you start to break out and say this is a very small amount of fentanyl, looks like a user, or this is a larger amount and we need to track the seller and buyer because this could be a street distributor. how do you balance that out and work through the process of the intradiction and enforcement? >> thanks for your question. in regard to identifying the different players in this process, we have, of course, our offices overseas that are
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working directly within the supply chain as far as the supply from china. we work here in the united states and we have our agents identifying leads, either from cbp or postal or our own investigations. we then are providing those back to china. we are identifying the entire chain. of course, the goal is to identify them, the largest level suppliers, the suppliers from china, so that if we have an individual who is sending multiple thousands of packages, it makes the work down at the end of the table much easier by eliminating the one shipment. >> it would seem like if you are ordering it online, you have an i.p. address. you probably have a city location or a region this package is coming from when it was dropped off. there seems like there would be multiple markers, the financial transaction that occurs when the exchange happens. it seems like you would be able to narrow the focus somewhat. you have the address of the person that is purchasing it here, because that's where it is
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being delivered to. >> senator, you hit on how i was going to response. relationships with financial institutions is key in being able to track the financial transactions, both on the receiving and sending end. so we have established relationships with financial institutions that allows us to track the flow of the funds going from the purchaser to the person on the other end who is actually selling the elicit opioids. that is key. >> do we have any incentives for other nations to be able to cooperate with us. we are trying to intradikt thct. is there any incentive for those other nations to cooperate to share the information? >> i would defer partly to that to dea. from the hsi perspective, we have tried to establish relationships with foreign countries, with intelligence
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sharing and working with our law enforcement partners to establish mutual relationships so it can intradict a package before it comes in. if we can push the borders further out to not have the package come into the united states, that would be our goal. >> to follow up, senator, and add some more to that answer, countries, at least china, has an interest in working with us to try to address some of the stuff coming out of china. there is a potential this threat, threes drugs couese dru used by their own people. they are not seeing that but recognizing the potential of that. we have certain mechanisms within dea and the department of justice where we are engaging them on a regular basis to assist us in getting them to help us with this problem. those are things we work on on a daily basis and annually. we have meetings to try to push
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our asks to the chinese. >> can i switch countries? mexico you have mentioned, the precursors are coming to mexico. we also have mexican production facilities to where they are shortcutting china instead of having it delivered from china, getting it straight to mexico. what's the cooperation with mexico like right now for that as well? >> senator, in regard to dea's cooperation with mexico, it is good. we have seen within mexico this substance move into mexico where it is being produced. as was said in the opening statements, the percentage and purity of the substance coming over the border, on the southern border, it is a lot less than it is coming through the mail service. we are also looking to try to bring both mexico and china together to collaborate on this
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issue and deal with those substances, the precursors that are going to mexico that are then coming into the united states. those are one of the things we are working on. we do have a decent relationship with our folks in mexico to deal with this problem. we want to make sure they are working with china to make sure they address the threat they have in their country as well. >> thank you. can i make one quick comment? thank you for allowing me to be able to go quickly on this and get to the next meeting. i also want to be able to highlight the inspector general for the postal service, not only for the work they have done and the reports they have done. many people may not know but the senator and i have worked on this for quite a while. the postal service inspector general has worked with all inspector generals to pull together a website called that is getting out all the i.g. reports out for every single group. they are not named on that but their team was major player on getting those reports out. that's
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if he is dominated, that would be two democrats to go forward. a wonderful and timely point. >> mr. baldwin. >> yes, senator. dea is always appreciative of
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any additional tools and authorities that are granted to us to address the opioid epidemic. >> can you be more specific? >> specifically, our priorities are outlined in our 2018 budget proposal, the administration's budget proposal. as those are prioritized by people much smarter than me, that's what i would ask, we prioritize those particular budget proposals. in regards to specific threat, we have a number of things in regards to scheduling actions and controls. those type of things we would look at to better address this threat. >> senator, i want to thank you for the resources that congress gives us, both in budget as well as personnel. with more, we can do more. my answer would be resources. the more resources, the more special agents we have, the more staffing we have would allow us to do our job more effectively.
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i think almost every one of you mentioned china. about two, three years ago, the president of china was coming to the u.s. he was meeting with president barack obama. i think we met in washington state. one of the things that was raised by president barack obama was an issue we have raised with china many times before. that was our unhappiness, anger with their allowing folks within china to launch these hacks. and to come after our intellectual property and money and a number of other items and things of value. every time we raised this with china, they would say, nobody who is responsible for this is doing it. it is into the the chinese military or part of our government. it is just happening, and different people are doing this stuff. we didn't believe with them. when president barack obama met
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with president xi about two or three years ago he raised this issue. president xi said, it is not us. it is others in other country. >> president obama said, this is who is doing it. if you don't do it something about it, you are going to find it much more difficult to sell your goods, and products and services in this country and president xi acknowledged that they could help and they have. they haven't stopped all the hacks from china but it has slowed them down. iran for years was trying to shut down our banks. get on their websites and shut them down. a week after we entered into a comprehensive agreement in iran on not developing a nuclear weapon, guess what stopped? when you think about root causes, it is not just working on the appetite we have for illegal drugs but there are others as well.
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let's focus on china. i said earlier, we are going to reach out to the ambassador to china hoping some colleagues will join us to ask them what are they doing and what do we need to do to address the root cause from your end. mr. baldwin, why is it important that we engage with china. >> we were given a cooperative update. >> senator, thank you for the question. put quite simply, the reason we have to engage with china is because, as anybody who has changed oil in their car, we know the big side of the funnel and the small side of the funnel. china is the small side of the funnel. that's the place things are originating. we need to get to packages before they get to the united states and branch out to thousands of locations within the united states. we can try to track every package. we can try to address every
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threat, every trafficker within the united states. if we can get to the small end of the funnel, and attack some of those distributors within china that are sending tens of thousands of packages to the united states, we would have a greater impact. the importance to work with china is just that. we have the ability to do that along with them. that's fed by information from cbt, postal. our partners at hsi. we identify packages here and the shipping origin and take the head off the snake. >> thanks so much. >> chairman johnson. >> mr. chairman, this is really for mr. baldwin or mr. navano. i read an article that about $800 worth of prekur cursor ingredients produces about $800,000 worth of street drugs. is that close to true?
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>> senator, i would say that is an accurate assessment. we know that the profit margin in fentanyl is much higher than heroin. so your statement is accurate. >> obviously, where there is a demand, it is going to be supplied with that kind of profit potential. i want to talk about the difference between -- i'm not going to hold you to these figures. what percent of the fentanyl is coming in through mexico and how much is coming in directly through our postal system? i will talk about the purity differences later. give me some kind of sense. >> i'm not sure if my colleague at cbp might be able to answer these better. >> we are seeing larger from the southwest border, 10% purity and
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854 pounds of fentanyl was seized on the land border. 335 pounds were seized in the express and mail environment. much higher quantities but lower purity. >> why the difference in the purity? are they cutting in mexico to be used immediately or the practicality to ship smaller quantities? >> the seizures we see, the fentanyl is mixed with other hard narcotics. in the mail environment, it is a single shipment of the fen ttan, pure, by itself. >> the stuff coming through the postal systems, is that being send to other labs to be cut further to take that 100% purity -- >> when somebody is abusing fentanyl, what percentage purity is in that tablet? >> i think you have hit on something crucially important. we have two threat areas, the
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southern border, potentially where there is a precursor for making fentanyl, found and produced there. it is adull tterated into the or illegal drugs. the mail stream has higher purity and is being used in what we call pill mill operations, where that fentanyl is pushed into a counterfeit pill to look much like those similar pills that drove the opioid crisis to begin with. the dosage amount is 1 milligram. 1 milligram of fentanyl, if it is 98% pure, 1 milligram is 1,000th of a gram. there is a thousand grams in a kilo. there are 1 million grams in a kilo. that is in the pill mill operation process. >> it almost sounded like they were just users directly buying
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that. is that almost the case? or is it almost 100% of the case where these things are being shipped to some kind of pill mill? >> senator, like any other ecommerce community, they can sit in their living room and order these. >> they are getting 90 percent purity? >> yes, that's right. >> is that why they are dying so quick? >> that would be accurate. >> i want specifically what would you like to see china do? are they not investigating? are they turning a blind eye? what would you like them to do? >> working in china has its challenges. there are things that china has done back in 2015, as i mentioned, they changed their law to where they were able to adapt to a threat in a third
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country. see in the united states if we have anabuse that's not controlled in china, their law is now adapted to where we can take that abuse data and provide it to china where they then can change their law. dea has a mechanism that is set up where within our chemical evaluation section within dea headquarters, we are evaluating different substances, the harm and effect it is having on the american people and providing that information directly back to china for their action. when you ask what i want china to do, i would like them to continue down that road. they have taken it seriously. they have controlled a number of different fentanyls. we have prioritized fentanyl information provided to the chinese. they have actually controlled our top four asks. we want that dialogue to continue. we are hopeful it does. we want it to get better and better. we want our experts to meet on a regular basis and exchange this important information. again, this is something that we can do to directly address those
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threats here in the united states with china. >> it is not a glaring emission but they are doing good things. they need to do more of it. >> absolutely. i think that's one aspect of what they can do. it is one piece of the puzzle. again, there are multiple problems here, multiple facets. >> one of the problems really are the analogs and our inability and china's law as well is keeping up with the minute change in the chemistry. that's why we introduced the sofa act and dea has tried to do tla through the that through their regulatory powers. can you talk about the need to codify that? >> thank you for that question, senator. i am not familiar with all the details within the sofa act. i am aware of it. i am certainly -- we, of course, if we have another tool that's provided to dea for us to deal with this problem, that's the act that gives us that tool, we
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are happy -- >> you are constrained right now in terms of rapidly scheduling one of these analogs, correct? >> we have existing authorities to move forward and schedule substances. that is not something i'm intimately familiar with. i am within the operations division. we have the planning operations folks, the people in the chemical section, that do this on a daily basis. if we have tools offered to us in whatever bill, we are happy to work with you to try to assist you in moving that bill forward. >> just real quick. i was very pleased to hear that you have actually trained dogs in fentanyl. i thought if you did that, they would die. that's very good news. how many more canines to you need just in general? i think we are all very supportive of it on this committee. for this particular task, how many could you use? >> we can always increase the resources at these facilities. it is important when congress has supported us before with canines, that it also seems to come with the handler. >> a unit.
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any support we can get in that would be helpful. we currently have just under 500 dogs working at our ports of entry. any enhancement would decrease our detection capabilities. >> they are detecting all kinds of things. is it a specific dog for a specific drug. >> we have a narcotics detector dogs that can enter six types of narcotics and dogs that detect currency and firearms for our outbound threats. so the dogs are split. >> you are able to add fentanyl to that? >> yes. >> that's impressive. thanks for your service. >> on the follow-up on china, quickly, dea and justice recently indicted two chinese nationals, as was widely publicized. they indicted them because they were using the mail to ship large amounts of fentanyl to the united states. so the question is, what can china do? it's fine to schedule these precursors or things that go into making fentanyl or the
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analogs, but it is about actually taking action and prosecutions. let me ask you, mr. baldwin, about those two individuals who were indicted. the justice department and the dea were involved. have they been prosecuted? >> thank you for the question. the current status, i am not absolutely certain where they are within the system within chai int china. i do know this. the traffickers and shippers of these substances from china are very creative. if they have the ability and you probably learned this with your own inside investigation, if something is controlled, they usually divert to another substance that's not controlled. >> let me just back up for a second. i understand the challenges and we talked a lot about that. there is also a transshipment challenge and so on. i asked you a specific question. have those individuals been arrested and prosecuted?
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the answer is, no, unless you are going to correct me? >> that's correct. >> so to the chairman's good question about what could the chinese do, how about prosecuting these two individuals who you all have indicted? two individuals out of the thousands of labs in china that are sending this poison into our communities. that would be a good step. >> just going back for a moment, to follow up, the chinese have to feel like they have a dog in a sleigh and some would like to see us further weakened as a nation and our continued use/abuse, and overuse of these harmful narcotics we confess. there are enormous amounts of money to be made, money that is going to flow from this country to their country. now, they have to be able to understand they have a dog in this fight. partially, it is to say, maybe the customers for these drugs may be your people, not just ours. when the president of the united
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states meets with the leader of china, it is important that this be at or near the top of the issues that are raised. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think this is the third or fourth time we have been in this room talking about this. i have to tell you, this investigation reminds us that we are not doing everything with a sense of urgency that we need to do. i recognize y'all are working really hard on this, that y'all want to see success. we have to be more urgent about this. we can build a 20 billion dollar wall. if we don't solve this problem, we will not have solved the problem of interjecting drugs. if we simply focus on china, we will not solve the problem of interdicting these drugs.
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f fentanyl in my state that killed kids and led to a huge investigation, one of the first, came from china, to canada, to portland, oregon, to north dakota. we talked to treaties and the need to work government to government with authorities like mr. owens to try and see are the treaties stopping us from doing what we want to. are we on the right path? it is not just about drug interdiction. you have made such a great point about ecommerce. as it gross, this problem will get worse and worse. it is going to be counterfeit goods and avoiding goods that may injure from a consumer protection standpoint, whether it is lead paint in toys. we need to have our laws enforced that protect the public safety. so we are failing and we are failing because we have understaffed and underresourced
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the post office. i think it is pretty clear. we are failing because we haven't worked in a government to government way to really close the loopholes. this isn't just about drugs but all about ecommerce. i think the court will give the ability to collect sales tax. they are going to have some skin in the game. it may drive some offshoring of ecommerce to avoid sales tax responsibilities in states. those of us that live on the border understand the complexities of working to make sure we are not shutting down commerce but that we are, in fact, protecting public health and safety. now, mr. baldwin, one of the questions that i have, you have described the funnel, right? we want to get to that point. a lot of talk about china. how easy is it if we have got 100% complete cooperation from china, extradition or prosecutions, for that to be offshored and moved some place
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else, given the high profit margin that mr. navaro described and chairman johnson described, how difficult is it? if we simply say we are going to focus all of our attention on that one point of development before it expands up to the point of entry into this country, how difficult is it to move that around the world, mr. baldwin? >> seb tonator, thank you for t. it is very easy to do. there are multiple countries that stand ready to take up where china would leave off. >> why not if you are looking at that kind of project margin. it is really important that we not spend all of our time here simply focused on china. we have to understand because of what chairman johnson and harper continue to talk about the insatiable appetite for these
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kind of drugs, we have to understand that while we are trying to deal with demand, we can't let supply come in in the amount that it is. it has driven the street price down and it has created an opportunity for transition from prescription drugs to illegal street drugs. the pill, i'm glad you brought up, we have seized these fake oxy that are not fentanyl. the people doing it do not have ph.d.s in chemistry. they are putting amounts in there that are lethal, never mind the destruction it does to the social safety net of this country. it is killing people. my question would be, what are the strategies not just dealing with china but what are the strategies to deal with these precurs
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fentanyl fentanyl when i was attorney general, i ran the drug task forces. 90 to 90% of all the meth consumed in north dakota came in through mexico. it wasn't home grown. we got a tip that there was a package with meth. we had probably ten packages. they hit on three. that's what we know. we know we are just getting inundated. what can we do working within our international cooperation to renegligent oisha renegotiate the agreements have that limit you from doing what you need to do? >> we can target not only from china but as you mentioned as
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the threats shift and they start to train shift. in the ecommerce, they are looking at the space as an all threats environment. we have narcotics and trade compliance and public health and safety. ecommerce growth. 1.4 million parcels cross our borders right now. it is only going to continue crease. >> the last time we were here, we heard over and over from the postal service that their treaties or relationships, international contracts, i think they are probably treaties, with other international groups limit their ability to do interdiction. is that still true? because we have been at this a long time, we were told we can't use dogs, by dea last time, because fentanyl kills them. now, we are hearing you are using dogs.
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we were told last time that the postal agreements internationally limit our ability to do work. no one can now answer that question. we have to get an urgency to this. we have to deal with it not just about illegal drugs but everything else that we expect to protect our borders. i want to thank you all. this is not the end of this. i want to thank the chairman for the excellent work that was done here. i think that we didn't reveal anything in this report that we didn't know. i want to point out that the two chinese individuals that were indicted were indicted in north dakota. >> we will hear later more from mr. murphy about the issue of the international treaties, as you rightly called them and what the universal postal union challenges are. you are right. i don't think we have had any urgency. we have ten years going back and forth and all we have to show is a bar code. it is fine. there is a sticker. there is no information on the
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barcode for those countries for most packages. we do have to accelerate this as was said. this is an urgent problem. we need to be more aggressive. the point that i want to make about ecommerce is that this isn't just limited and if we simply focus on drug interdiction and china, we will miss the opportunity to fix the broader problem or at least provide a broader sweep in terms of what we need on all of ecommerce, whether it is counterfeit goods or things that violate public health and safety, whether it is, in fact, things that are happening to do tax evasion. >> senator. >> thank you very much and thank you for inviting me to join today. i think this report is incredibly important and sheds some light on what is going on here. i personally think with some of this information has been out here. it is pretty stunning.
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i also want to thank the chairman. he and i are leading the bill to do something about this, the stop act, which would require shipments from foreign countries through our postal system to provide an advance electronic data before these shipments enter the united states. i got interested in this because, like so many other senators, i saw what was happening in minnesota. 637 deaths in opioids and other drug overdoses in 2016. that is more than the number of car crashes and homicides combined in my state. almost 100 of these deaths, 96 of them, involve synthetics and nearly 80% increase from the previous year and 85 involve fentanyl and one of them was prince. it is not just celebrities that died from fentanyl but a lot of little kids, high school kids,
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college kids. we have to do something about this. i will start with you, mr. owens. as you know, this bill would show us where the packages are coming from, who it is going to and where it is going and what is in it. how would this sort of information help customs and border patrol detect and interdict shipments of fentanyl? >> absolutely. it is critical we receive the advance data on all cargo shipments, including what we are seeing in the mail, prior to the arrival of those shipments, to use our analytical tools, past seizure records and the connections we make through our national targeting center and advise the postal service to present that parcel. a real life example from last week at jfk. we had a shipment coming from chai in, an e-packet. the advanced information was provided prior to arrival. we were able to target that shipment prior to arrival. placed it on hold.
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when we inspected it, we had 28 grams of an unknown white powder. using the technology equipment we now have deployed, we were able to identify it as fentanyl and work with our criminal investigative partners at i.c.e. and dea and the nypd and made a controlled delivery and take down three additional individuals and make an arrest at this facility. the pill presses and all the equipment to further manufacture and distribute was there as well as two m-4s. two high-powered weapons that were part of that. that is just one example. only 28 grams of fentanyl but it started with the advance information provided prior to arrival of the cargo allowed us to target based on some rules we have in our systems and connections to previous seizures and allow us to deliver consequences with the criminal investigators to take people into custody. that's a great example initiated from jfk as to how this process should work. >> tell me the challenges and
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why it isn't working everywhere. >> the challenge is the advance information is what we need. we need to have that prior to arrival. it needs to be accurate and timely. again, that's an area shall as you have her this morning, we are working on very closely. we have made strong progress. there is still a lot of work to go in this regard. >> can you tell us about the trend in terms of the amounts of synthetic opioids including f fentanyl that bad actors are shipping? >> we continue to see that. of the 335 pound that we did seize, 92 pounds were in the mail environment and 240 were in the express environment. also, through the mexican border, less purity but mixed with seizures of other hard narcotics. the trends continue to go up. we will seize more in '18 than we did in '17.
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with that volume that we are seeing at the borders, interdiction can only be one small part of the solution. the volume is to overwhelming to think we will stop this problem simply at the border. >> and you and mr. sentron talked about the fact that 23 countries are sharing this advanced electronic data with the u.s. you said that we are now working to increase the number. how do you do that? what are your hopes of doing that? >> one of the ways we do it is through collaboration. that's kind of been our focus right now, when you think of where we have been with aed, from 0 to 40%. we have moved from 8 to 23 countries and signed 26 data sharing agreements. you have heard us talk about that. it represents 90% of the volume coming in. we have a big push this year in terms of aed, china as an example. untracked volumes will yield a significant amount this year of
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that aed volume. our target by the end of the year is to hit about 70% aed, just by focusing on that and our partner right now. we are seeing data coming over. the focus is collaboration and collaboration also by the law enforcement agencies to help out and for us to focus on those countries. >> i think when we see these numbers coming in and i'm from the state that's known for doing a lot of treatment. we think it is really important. part of the reason senator portman and i and two other senators led the cara act which helped set a blueprint for our country. it is why i believe we need to get more funding in the budget upcoming for opioids. it is also one of the reasons that i think we need to do a better job of policing what the drug companies have been doing in terms of getting people hooked on this. this issue is something that is just getting worse and worse with fentanyl. it is up to 100 times more
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potent than morphine. we are seeing an increase in car fentanyl, 100 times more powerful. a dose the size of two grains of salt can be fatal. i ask you, the postal service, as we good forward, we are trying to gather support for our bill. if we can stop some of this -- i know it is not the only solution. you have to look at many things as senator heitkamp pointed out. this has to be part of this. the other thing i would add is something that senator graham and i are leading in our bill, the salt act, to make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of synthetics. as you know, these analogs, they base click take a chemical makeup, change it a bit and it is not on our list. senator graham and i have a bill going through judiciary to make it easier to go after those analogs and be as sophisticated
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as the people that are trying to get people hooked on drugs that ultimately kill them. i want to thank the chairman for his great leadership, for this report. i hope it moves all of us to more action. thank you. >> thank you, senator. thanks for your leadership on the stop act and more broadly on the need for more prevention and certainly more treatment and recovery. that's all part of it. if we can keep this poison from coming into our country in the first place, we need to do it. we know we can. what this report showed is if we are not doing what we can within our current budget restraint, i appreciate the fact that in response to senator harper's question was, the answer was almost universally more funding, more funding. we will talk about this in a moment when i ask a question of you all. i want to let senator danes go. i don't disagree. more funding is important. we did just pass legislation to
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have monitoring equipment to detect fentanyl. we are not coordinating well. we are not doing what we should be doing. last year, we were able to get advanced electronic data on 36% of mail. that was the number from last year. it was the same as the previous year. even during the year, you have a chart in your report you can see, it was flat. we are not doing what the commissioner told us he need, finding these packages to pull them offline and test them and get rid of this poison so it doesn't come into our communities and go after the individual who are sending them. senator danes? >> mr. chairman, thank you. thank you for your leadership, for you and what your staff has done to produce this report. we're seeing this in montana. looking at the map up here, if you look at montana, there is not a lot of color on it. i'll tell you, it is costing our state dearly n 2015, 35
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montanans died. this continues to drain fiscal resources that could otherwise be spent on other services. i was struck by the council of economic advisors issued a report last november and estimated the economic losses are over half a trillion dollars in 2015 alone. what the chairman just mentioned, we need to better our efforts on intercepting these shipments so that the united states postal service and cbp can prevent the distribution of opioids in the first place. mr. baldwin, in my days with procter & gamble, i spent over 5 1/2 years working in china. i was one of the early pioneers that was sent over by p & g to develop and grow our business and make great american brands and produce and ship those to the chinese consumer.
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i understand a substantial amount of usps shipments containing opioids originates from china. it is not surprising you are here as the leading expert on china at the dea. could you share with the committee chai committee china's relationship with the dea? >> certainly, sir. senator, thank you for your question. dea has had a presence in china beginning in hong kong back in the '70s. we sent liaison officers up to beijing on a regular basis to engage with the chinese. that relationship, as you know, having spent time in china, a long-term relationship in china is much better than a short-term in the sense that you build rapport and
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that, hey, we both have a common mission. at least we can start there, right? so we've had -- now we have a country attaché stationed, of course, full time in beijing. we have a number of different employees, and we're expanding our presence, if you spent time in china, we easterning up another office in order to expand into the province where we then would be able to have direct engagement with the provincial law enforcement authorities who then are the ones who are actually doing the work, and our goal is to build on that rapport. we know our partners have presence there as well. and so we're looking to expand our conk tiv connectivity.
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>> we lived in guangzhou. 1800s is the opioid wars. this is a problem that goes back a long, long ways and something that it's not new. i've got to commend the chairman. chairman portman came with us to chi china, and he was such a strong advocate in directly questioning the chairman there, about how do we reduce the source of fentanyl right there in china, being shipped directly into the united states. i was grateful for your leadership there, senator portman. you look at that map, just the devastation this has created in ohio and other places around this country. so i appreciate your work around the world as we're trying to get to the root cause in stopping this scourge on our nation. mr. cintron last week in my home
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state of montana, the flathead beacon reported there was a couple employed there in paulson, montana, that was caught distributing methamphetamine through postal shipments, employees of the us ps. a city there, it's beautiful. it sits in the flathead tip, close to glacier part. the population is less than 5,000 people. ite concerning that a half a pound of meth could be shipped directly into this small community. i tell you i'm grateful for law enforcement officials. their vigilance uncovered this operation, and we need to do more to stop the spread of this meth epidemic that's occurring in montana. my question is what detective and preventive measures is the us ps taking to combat the
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shipment of meth in rural america? >> i'm going to ask the inspector to step up and answer that question. >> yes, senator, thank you. guy cottrell. i was sworn in at the beginning of the hearing. e i'm the chief postal inspector. as we heard before the challenges for domestic are just as challenging as it is for international, but it's each higher in the domestic arena. we use our intelligence, past seizure data, what we get from our law enforcement partners, local, state, and federal and u.s. postal and package history and in the case of our employees we work with the office of the attorney general. >> while we still have you
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there, oi somewhat understand how a couple could be caught in part because it's a real small community. it's more difficult to hide. it's a close-knit community, and clearly we need to step up enforcement. what can we do in congress? this might be a two-part question as well. what can we do here that helps you in those efforts? >> well, from my vantage point, the postal service has given the inspection service additional resources to combat narcotics in the mail, so we've assembled a team of experts to work on the int international angle as well as the domestic angle. i'll speak from the inspection side and certainly mr. seemer can cover the i. gchlt side. it's comprehensive postal reform to allow us to continue doing what we do with the postal service and operations. you're absolutely right.
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in the small communities, sometimes it's just criminal intelligence. sometimes we get a tip from someone who will tell us something like that. but comprehensive reform from my end. >> and e'll speak for the inspector general's office. we receive our funding through the postal service but we work through the appropriations department. it's up to the congress and appropriations committee to give us funding and resources for these kinds of initiations. because we're appropriating, we're facing the same kind of government that all administrations are faisal. we face a small budget anyway. >> mr. chairman, i'm out of time, thank you. >> mr. daines mentioned travels to china last year. he's correct. we raised it. we raised it in strong terms. one of the points i made as
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senator daines will recall is the fact that mr. bolduan, they have a growing problem. that's not surprising given the fact they're producing more and more of these open yoids to send to the lucrative markets in the united states. there's leak alk. they would have hope for a number of reasons including the overdose deaths in this country and leaves being taken off track but also because of their own internal issues. with regard to the testimony earli earlier, you said it's important to have that. most of you responded to the question, we just need more money, boy uld make an obvious point. again, i don't disagree. resources are more important. that's why we passed legislation to give you more resources on the monitoring equipment. but it's a whole lot more cost
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effect active for you and your people to have advanced electronic data, isn't it? >> yes, it is. the manual process that's the alternative will not meet the challenges that we face, having to take bags of mail and run it through the x-rays, run it through the dogs, using the intuition of the officers. it's too overwhelming. we have to rely on the data, analytics that we do, the targets, the data is the key. >> let me take this to the next level because there was a lot of information in this report that wasn't preefsly known. one was that you had to say we need to target certain countries because of this manual inspection, and understanding from our report, our investigation is that you were not able to include china among those targeted countries, why? because there were too many packages from china. you know, that's -- that's not responding to the threat that we know is from china, but it's
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responding to the reality we don't have the electronic data to be able to target packages, so you couldn't even look at any packages from china. now you have some advanced electronic data from china, the 36% figure we talked about earlier, which leaves over 306 million packages unmonitored. we think about 60% of the packages from china are now including this advanced electronic data because of the e packet agreement you have with china, and that's good, but we're still letting so much of this through. and then the other point you make in your testimony is that even if you have electronic data in advance and you nknow this package is suspicious, 20% of the time the post office can't find the package to present to you to be able to check it. is that accurate? >> yes. when we started the program, the presentation rate was much less. the postal service has now put some new mechanisms in place,
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technology and software and things of that nature. you're right. 80% is not where we ultimately need to be. >> so 20% of these packages that are identified as suspicious are still getting through. again, know that's fine but to let these pack js go requires more coordination with all of you especially in the postal service. it requires, as you said earlier, accurate, timely information, and then the presentation of those packages. let me go back to sort of the origins of our problem which is the lack of information coming from these countries. mr. murphy you talked about where you are in terms of working with other countries in the world. as i said, we've got some e-mail traffic indicating otherwise, but let me if i could just go
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along to another piece of information we were able to uncover in our investigation. if you look at exhibit a in front of you, exhibit a, it's an e-mail from may of 2017. this is a memo to deputy assistant secretary of state narissa cook from gregory tommy, and if you turn to page 821 of this memo you'll see an unredacted session on the issue before us, the upu issue, universal postal union issue. in that section it states advanced electronic data is a topic of, quote, high interest on the hill, capitol hill, os sentence inably because of. the memo goes on to say, quote, despite its uncertain benefits for this purpose, its uncertain benefits for this purpose, that's opioids, acceleration is
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one f our highest priorities at this upu because of the clear benefits for aviation security, ipr enforcement and expeditious mail handling. i guess the first question is were you part of this memo? did you help to draft or contribute to this internal memo to deputy cook? >> yes, sir, senator. i helped draft it. >> is that what we're to believe? again, resources is important but if we have a government that thinks the advanced electronic data can detect counterfeit goods, like a fake purse, is more important than stopping a poison coming into our communities, i think we have a problem of our priorities. i guess u i would ask you is it a violation of the state
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department. >> >> senator, the state department use it for any purpose. >> okay. that's not your job. what agency is responsible for using aed to target ipr violations? >> it would be cpv. >> yeah. how did you determine if there was a clear effort to check for property but not opioids? >> senator, the -- first of all let me clarify. as you pointed out, this is an internal memo from one office in a bureau of the state department to the -- to the leadership of that bureau. so it doesn't reflect the views of the department per se. >> right. >> it's part of an internal discussion. but this -- the use of advanced electronic data for aviation security, which i think you would agree is a concern on par
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with our other high priority concerns as well as for ipr enforcement and for expeditious mail handling, these are established -- these are the uses for this data that are very well established that are familiar to people in the upu environment that have been talked about for many years. the use of this data for law enforcement -- for -- specifically targeting synthetic opioids is no older than the crisis itself, so it was less familiar. >> let me just interrupt you for a second. >> it reflects perhaps the novelty of it as much as anything else. >> let me just interrupt you for a second. this memo was written last year, may of 2017. are you saying the state department didn't know we had an issue with opioids in may of 2017? >> i mean, look. i'm not trying to put you on the
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spot personally, but i think it reflects an instead it's an attitude of trying to work with these countries for ten years, we've been doing it with very little success. we do have the barcode now, which is great, but we need the information on the barcode. so i hope it doesn't reflect the state department attitude. hope that after you heard from these individuals today and perhaps from some of the stories here that you have a different view of this now, that you understand that electronic data is really important. i mean, again, it's not the silver bullet. there is no one silver bull echlt we've got to stop the demand in this country. we've got to to deal with the fact our addiction rate is so high we need more treatment and recovery. if we have an attitude in the government that this doesn't matter, we're going to continue to get this poison coming in through our mail system. our mail system.
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commissioner owen can't do his job. he can't find this stuff. i hope one of the things we do is prioritize this issue and instead of saying it's not as important as intellectual property, fake purses from china, to say it's more important. it's about people dying and prioritizing it. so i thank you again for your service, and i just hope that you will go back, you know, to the upu and to your partners around the world and talk about this as an urgent matter. let me ask you a couple of other questions if i could. one of the issues that i think has not been properly explained today is the fact that there is a lot more overseas packages coming into america. it would help if you could give us the numbers.
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they're not in the report, so if i could hear from you. when i talk about the fact that will are about 500 million packages coming into the u.s. today, that has doubled just in the last few years. now that makes your job harder, but, again, all the more important that we have this data to know what's coming in. can you talk a little about that? >> yeah, certainly i can. we could probably provide you the specifics on the numbers and certainly you're pretty close to that range. you know, we've seen a significant amount increase certainly over the last few years. a couple of things that we're doing, so in the last year we've deployed a significant amount of procession equipment around the country based on these inbound cities. so in the isc cities like in the pacific area of california, new york, chicago, we've deployed equipment to handle the influx of volume itself coming in, and so that's one piece. the other part is in working to get more, as i said, we've increased the numbers. we're going see a significant
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number this year with earths of the untracked volume coming out of china, which we blooesh will put us at 80% capture by the end of the year. significant improvement for this year. what we've done subsequent on the equipment, not only do we have the five iscs running, what we've done is expanded that to 13 facilities attached to those iscs where we now have the ability to trap and capture. so the question of the 20% missing, our efforts right now is that expansion of equipment, capture before we get it downstream, and then further to that in the next several months, we're going to have the capability to deliver the unit level to trap that piece, and we certainly all have the inspection service which at any time they're embedded within these agencies themselves can intercept the packages in the mail stream. there are efforts to get more and the second part, really go after making sure that the 100 pieces they're asking for is the 100 pieces they're going to get
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and e we're laser focused to capture every piece before it gets out of the network itself, that we capture it. >> again, if i look at what happened in 2017, it was flat. you talk about 40%. i talk about 36%. in december it was 407. in november it was less than 36%. went up and down and back up a little bit at the end. so it's not a good trend. you know, 70% would be ambitious, and we're all for that. we want 100%. but we're going to have to change some of our methods and some of our management and some of our priorities in order to get there. the jfk program we talked about earlier, this is a program where particularly with regard to china, you had an agreement on these epackets, 4.4 pound packages. here's a quote from one of the customs and border protection officers on the ground working at jfk in an e-mail, quote, there's been no meaningful
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improvement as the epacket program from china has not improved. that's one view. you may want to hear on that. i don't think the evidence supports what you're saying in terms of the priority and of the significant ramping up, certainly not in the last year and certainly not with this kind of data. do you have any thoughts on that, commissioner owen? >> i would say i think we learned an awful lot from the jfk pilot as it had begun. it started with advanced data coming from both china and from france. we had to train our officers how to effectively target, work with the postal service to make sure the packages we asked to be presented were, in fact, presented. i think we learned a lot from that pilot. i think it was a slow road, which led to a delay in the expansion to the other international mail facilities, but i think we're on the right track now. i think there is a sense of the urgency behind this and we'll
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continue to move forward. >> mr. cintron, are you planning to expand the targeting beyond the chinese epackets? >> yes. actually that will be us and we plan to go beyond the packets. at jfk we're targeting off eight different countries some of when you look at the volume in the particular mail facility, we basically form a risk assessment and ask to see the packages, targets specifically for one country that may be of a greater concern than another at that specific mail facility. >> let me just ask a general question and then turn it over to senator carper. there's been a lot of discussion today about the need focus on china, and, of course, i agree on that. all of the evidence is that's the source of most of this synthetic opioid coming into this country. and most of it comes through the mail. but we also know that as mr. baldwin said earlier, this is a very lucrative trade and there
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will be trance shipments through other means with whatever we come up with. so mr. dough va noe, is it true that if we just focus on one country and this kind of goes again to the state department's approach to dealing with countries around the world, that we're likely to see tran shipments from other countries and likely we'll have a universal application of this, in other words, telling all countries, you want to do business with us, you have to provide this data is going to be required. >> senator, thank you for your question. i would agree with that. as we in law enforcement improve on our ability to seize and intercept packages, the nefarious actors are only going to change their modus operandi. they're going to try to evade law enforcement efforts.
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>> senator carper, and then i have a couple of more questions. senator carper. >> thank you, thank you. i don't know if anybody has ever heard of the name willie sutton. every now and then we talk him. famous bank robber that's long since died. many decades ago, he was finally arrested and put in jail. they said, mr. sutton, why do you rob banks, and he responded famously, that's where the money is, that's where the money is. why do we focus on china? well, that's because that's where a lot of this stuff is coming from. why do we focus on the postal service? that's how a lot of it is getting into this country. i'm reminded of a game that is played at the boardwalk in rehoboth beach, delaware, a place called funland for kids, a famous amusement park, famous for years. one of famous games is whack a
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mole. this is not a game. that is. it's also a different version of whackamole because as soon as we slot it down there, it will go someplace else. there's a lot of money to be made. one of the points i want to make that we keep making is this is a multi-layered approach. we need a multi-layered approach. i think we're doing that. this is an all hands on deck-moment. i think we're starting to see that urgency. there's plenty for us to do and one of the things we talk about, yes, the postal service could use some governance. they have none. the postal service could use some predictability and ability to generate revenue that we need and we need to do a better job on that. so there's work for all of us to do here. i have a question of maybe mr. owen and mr. cintron if i could. first for mr. owen's staffing
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level, i would just ask at the international service centers, would you talk to us about the staffing levels, how have they changed over the last five years at each of the last international service centers that in the last year, we have increased the cdp officers by 20% in direct response to this threat. prur to that i would say the staffing levels were pretty much stagnant for the last four or five years, but we have added 20% additional staff. >> was much made of our need to tighten our borders for a variety of reasons. human traffics, dogs, and other illicit activities. we focus a lot on border patrol agents. think we have 20,000 or more allocated. i'm not sure we're able to hire that many people. very have hundreds of positions. correct me if i'm wrong. i heard for a number of years that customs and border patrol
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could use some additional people. we focus on the borders between border crossings. we also need to focus on staffing -- proper staffing at the border crossings themselves where all of this traffic, all of this commercial activity coming through, a lot of it is illegal. ill lizik. would you comment on that, mr. ow owen, please? >> yes. we have what's known as a workload staffing model and what that model does, it measures the amount of work and time it takes an officer to perform every task we're required to do. how long does it take to do a seven-point vehicle inspection, border clearances, how much does it take to process a passenger at the airport and then we look at how often we do those activities at the country throughout the year. the workload staffing shows we're understaffed by 2,518. so that it's 2,518 -- >> say that one more time. >> yes. 2, 518 additional officers is what our workload staffing model
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that is provided to congress shows what we need at the ports of entry. also 631 additional agriculture specialists are needed to address the needs at the ports of entry. >> thanks, mr. chairman. we need to take that to heart. right from the horse's mouth. all right. mr. cintron, i spoke in my opening statement about postal reform, they need to get the postal resources needed. they need to be successful as as by and provide the service that we need. can you tell us what they need to be able to properly handle international pack and volume and to facilitate cdp's screening efforts? >> yeah. i think the obvious comprehensive postal reform goes a long way helping us financially, right? we're not necessarily waiting as it relates to the international volumes as i talked about a minute ago. we're expanding the network
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itself to be able to handle any type of volume coming into the country. so from from our perspective we're doing those things. we're not waiting. certainly the comprehensive postal reform keeps us on financial footing and allows us to invest in it. as you said, very important to think about the data, the technology, what everybody on the panel is talking about and that's where investments should be made to make sure that we can zero in on what we're looking for. >> all right. thanks. >> but reform will help us get there. >> thanks. mr. siemer, any comments you have on this front, please? >> i think the only comment i would make is as they collect this advanced electronic data, we need to keep in mind the quality of the data. it's only useful for analytics if it's structured for analytics. as we started looking at it last summer, it looks to us as if someone is manually inputting this overseas. someone's typing in the address. our address, 1735 northland street.
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there's probably 20 different way as human can type that. they can abbreviate street, north, they can put periods in there, add extra spaces. when you enter it, it's almost impossible to start matching addresses and packages going to those addresses. it really takes a tremendous amount of cleanup effort to make it suitable for those kinds of efforts. if there was any way to have our country structure it, it would help tremendously, but in the meantime some effort needs to be made to clean up by somebody. we're doing it for analytic purposes. >> all right. thank you. another one for mr. citron, mr. owen. they receive the bulk of the country's inbound mail from other places. the postal service, cbp has this pilot prarm.
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they're using advanced electronic data that targets specific packages. it's designed to help us manage the high package volumes from hopefully preventing illegal packages from entering our country. a question for mr. cintron, if i could. i trust the postal service appreciates the role of cbp. how do you plan to address our findings and recommendations specific to your agency? i'll say it again. how do you plan to address our findings and recommendations for true release specific to your agency? >> yeah. we're certainly going to take all the findings that are in the report and go back and address them. certainly key for us ads i brought up earlier, two things, one, working collaboratively to keep getting percentages, you know, while we had a bump for a couple of months, there were technical issues. when we looked at the growth of
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aed, it was significant growth. we suspect wourd our collaboration be higher this year. the other part is the holds. one key thing we found in terms of finding the 20% which is significantly important to us. all the findings will get there, we're going to get priority to make sure we're addressing every one of those issues and abate them as quickly as we can. >> thanks. mr. owen, could -- i'm convinced that you recognize that the vital role your agency plays in addressing this, but really the same question i just asked of mr. cintron. please discuss how cdp plans to address the findings and recommendations as it relates to your agency. >> the key is the advanced information. wheel continue to work with them not only ensuring that the level is going up but the accuracy and timeliness of the data so we can be more effective with the far getting and designing protocol to make sure every package we
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ask for inspection is presented to us for inspection. >> all right. any question for you -- this is my last question for both of you, mr. cintron and mr. owen. have your agencies -- this is for both of you. have your agencies agreed to a performance measurement system for trafficking the number of packages the postal service presented to cbp for inspection, and if yes, explain what you've agreed to, and if not, maybe you could explain why not. do you want to go first, mr. owen. >> yes. we're still in discussion. when we place a shipment on hold, of course, we expect to see it. the challenge is when the data was not prior to arrival or the date tar getting was not done until after the cargo arrived. then we have a plan for the postal service to retrieve that. where sth is working is, again, the data is presented prior to arrival. we target prior to arrival, and
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then the postal service will capture that. there's no disagreement in that. it ooh these gray space what happens when the data came in late or the targeting was late, how do we account for that. that's one area. again, the ultimate objective is to have the targeting done prearrival and then there's no disagreement that those would be presented to cbp. >> thanks mr. cintron? >> really, the only piece to add onto that are the other developments to go beyond the ifc, so if the timing is off and we have the ability to capture before the delivery, that's where the focus is going to be. we're in agreement on getting to the metrics we can agree on. >> thank you for your continuing leadership on this front. it's vitally important for the hats you've worn. i thank our staff for the collaboration they've den straighted to our leadership to address this challenge and bring
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a sense of urgency to it. as the chairman said earlier, there's no silver bullet. and that's obviously true. i'd like to say not just on this front but every challenge, no silver bullet, a lot of silver bbs and some are bicker than others. today we've identified them. in delaware, we're big on the letter "c," i don't know why. we're big on the letter "c." we get caught the delaware way, communicate, compromise, collaborate. the letter "c" can be real helpful to all of us, you as well as us, and that is to communicate better and i hope this hearing is helpful in that to better coordinate and find other ways to collaborate. if we do those three things, it will be better off. this hearing started 2, 2 1/2 hours ago. i'm told five people die every hour. five people die every hour from this opioid epidemic, five
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people per hour. which means 12 13rks people have died since this hearing. they're somebody's mom or dad, brother or sister, somebody's son or daughter. niece or nephew. keep that in mind as we put the pedal to the metal. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator carper. not just your thoughts but your input. with we able to dig much deeper. thank you. among the exhibits we talked about today was exhibit 1. this was the state department memo. e'd like to tern this into the record without objection. we were talking a moment about about the 20% in terms of
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customs and border protection and that is to find the data to find the package and find the package was already delivered or otherwise unavailable. what's your experience with the fedexs, upss, and dhls around the world, consignment. our report is you do not have slippage or leakage in that, is that right? >> yes. they're about 100%. they're very effective. what i think is important to note and remember is they've been at this since 2002 with the passage of the trade act of 2002 that required the express courier operators to provide that advance data. i can tell you from my personal experience those early years as they were ramping up, they struggled with a lot of same issue, with providing the data, the data being accurate and timely and finding the parcel that customs was looking to hold. when i look at the success the kour yoors have had as success
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over the last 10 or 12 years, i see that as a model. so they've come a long way. they're very effective at helping us to track down those shipments. i feel we'll be just as confident in the near future with the postal service as well. >> i appreciate your confidence and i hope that this hearing helps to focus on that issue because ultimately we want to make sure the data -- the data is usable as mr. schumer said. i'm sure you all have done the same thing. cbp has had to clean up data as i understand and getting better data and understanding once you have the data it's actually used. the model you've had is something we ought to look alt.
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they were meeting with the hong kong customs officials and they talked about a few things i thought were interesting. one is there had been a bust working with dea and, you know, with, as i understand it, the department of homeland security as well. and that was a very successful bust in the sense that they were able to break up some kind of network going between china and hong kong, tran shipping to the united states. but there's only been one. and also their attitude. i will tell you, and mr. murphy, you will appreciate this. their attitude was, don't worry, it's under control. that was the quote of the customs official, the most senior customs official that our staff was able to interview. clearly not under control. but, again, this goes to the attitude that some of our former partners. and finally the fact that this advanced electronic data, as important as it is to commissioner owen to finding
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this poison, getting it off track, it's also really important to your prosecutions, and mr. nevano, you can speak to that for a second. the hsi, homeland security inspections, your special agents at facilities like the international service centers that we talked about here could be a lot more effective in their investigations and dismantling these networks if they had the advanced electronic data, and maybe you could speak to that for a second. after customs border protection makes an opioid seizure at one of these international centers, how does the advanced data assist you and hsi in subsequent criminal investigations? >> thank you for your question, senator. the quicker we get the information, the hire probability we have at conducting a successful prosecution. it also allows us as mr. owens, i believe, stated earlier is it allows us to do a link analysis
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or post seizure analysis where you might be able to tie the linkings of previous seizure, tie a national criminal organization. for example, we may have an organization or previous seizure that was in california and this seedure at jfk in new york. but based on the his tore canada ta, we may be able to tie it together to develop a larger yog nation and take down a larger organization. it also helps us from the office of a safety standpoint, senator. before our agents go into a home, it's helpful to know the person that may be inside that residence or business, what type of criminal history do they have, do they have weapons, how can we best prepare our special agents for the security and safety of them before they actually enact a law enforcement operation. so that would be a significant concern that we would have, and i think that advanced data helps us in that aspect, senator. >> i think that's also importanter us to note today that this is not simply about
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identifying a package and taking it offline. it's about the follow-through and prosecution. it's critical to follow through. thank you. we had a lot of questions, i'm sure we're going to follow up with some in the future. >> i have a question. >> maybe now. >> the thought has come to me, mr. chairman and our witnesses, my last year as governor of delaware, i had been advice chairman of the aga, one of our close friends, george. but there had been a lawsuit between all 50 states and the tobacco industry. the lawsuit was to get money from the tobacco industry to help cover health care costs states were incurring because of people's addiction to tobacco. nicotine.
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the lawsuit was successful. not only have they succeeded with issues but also a foundation was created called the -- oh, gosh, the truth campaign? american legacy foundation. the american legacy foundation was created. i was privileged to be founding vice chairman. and what we did is we went to work with young people all over the country to figure out is there a way we could mount a campaign, a multi-media campaign, not just the internet, not just films, not just television, not just print media, but a multi-media campaign to reduce the incidence of tobacco use of young people. if they were using, get them to stop. if they hadn't started, make sure they didn't start. it was hugely successful. and the key was hard-hitting, direct messaging right to the target audience, and we saw a
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dramatic drop in youth smoking tobacco use and it's actually persisted. it's actually persisted over the years. i always like to say find out what works, do more of that, and if we're looking at a multi-labored strategy, maybe part of that is to do a better job messaging to the target audience, what's as risk for them, for their lives and for their families, and we have something that works in doing just that. thank you. >> so true. thank you all for being here. we have follow-up questions we'll be providing. we appreciate your responsiveness not just today but previously. we shared our report in advance and we appreciate the fact that you made some edits that you thought were appropriate to be sure we weren't providing information that was inappropriate that was in any way that even if it wasn't classified, sensitive
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information. i want you to know this has been a collaborative effort not just with senator carper and myself but with our partners in the federal government who have the job every day to try to protect us from this opioid epidemic. we need to continue to work together and work together in smarter ways. we're better than this. you know, we can do a better job. and when you think about what's happening around our country today with 40,000 americans dying of overdoses -- and that's the tip of the iceberg, frankly, as tragic as that is, so many lives are ruined, taken off track at a tremendous cost to our families and broken apart. we geefb tot do everything we can. senator carper talked about all hands on deck. this is that time, this is that moment. we we'vet to change the way we're operating to be able to stop these packages. we've got to be able to prosecute those who are perpetrating these acts on our
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citizens. we have to to much more in terms of the prevention side as senator carper said in getting the treatment we need to stop this addiction. all of that is important. but here's one thing we know we can do and that is to tighten up our own postal service to be able to stop some of this poison from coming in. as was said earlier, it has an immediate impact on the price on the street. one of the reasons heroin is being pushed out on the streets of ohio is the cost. i won't tell you it's more powerful but it's less costly. again, i'm proud of the staff who worked on this report. i want to particularly thank agent mancuso. i'm going to tell you we're going to miss him when he goes back. his contributions were invaluable. i want to thank all the staff involved. senator carper, i want you to comment on your team that was
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involved, and i'm going to comment on ours briefly. >> thanks so much. our team led by john covington, the staff director on the democratic side, sitting right behind me, of course, we're grateful to you felicia hawkins and roberta. not just the work you've done but the collaboration. thank you. >> and on our team, i want to thank andy plozewski forhis work, darvish, mancuso, patrick warren. you didn't put your name down there. so i thank them for all of their hard work on this report. the hearing record will remain open for 15 days for any subsequent comments. again, thank you for your testimony today and for your service on behalf of this
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country. this hearing is adjourned.
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tonight "american history tv" is live with a look at the vietnam war's ted offensive including the battle of way. we'll hear from the author, the turning point of the american war in vietnam. also former "stars and stripes" photographer john olson whose photos taken during the battle of way make up a new exhibit at the knew see zum. "american history tv" is live againing at 7:00 p.m. eastern tonight on c-span3. next week marks the 50th anniversary of the anniversary of the war's ted offensive. oriole history from west point graduates who served in the vietnam war begins tonight at 8:30 eastern here on c-span3. the president of the united states. tuesday night president donald trump gives his first
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state of the union address to congress and the nation. join c-span for a preview of the evening starting at 8:00 eastern and the state of the union speech at 9:00 p.m. and following the speech, the democratic response. we'll also hear your reaction and comments from members of congress. president trump's state of the union address tuesday night on c-span. listen live with the free c-span radio lap and available live or on demand on your desktop, phone, or tablet at this is a picture of marine one this morning on the way to davos, switzerland. president trump landed in davos this morning to meet with world leaders and corporate executives at the world economic forum. the president already started meeting with heads of countries
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including britain's prime minister theresa may. >> thank you very much. it's an honor to be with prime minister may. we had a great discussion. we're on the same wavelength, i think, in every respect. the prime minister and myself have had a really great relationship, although, some people don't necessarily believe that, but i can tell you i have a tremendous respect for the prime minister and the job she's doing, and i think the feeling is mutual from the standpoint of liking each other a lot. so that was a little bit of a false rumor out there. i just wanted to correct it frankly. we have great respect for everything you're doing and we love your country.
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we think it's really good and we're working on transactions in terms of economic development, trade, maybe most importantly military. we are very much joined at the hip when it comes to the military. we have the same ideas, the same ideals, and there's nothing this would happen to you that we won't be there to fight for you, you know that. and i just wanted to thank you very much. this is a great honor to be here with you. thank you u very much. >> thank you very much, mr. president. thank you. as you say, we had a great discussion today and we don't have that really great relationship between the uk and united states. we're nation some challenges across the world and as you say, we're working together to meet those challenges. and working through a good trade relationship in future which will be to both of our benefits.
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so the uk and the u.s. both do well at this, and it's been great to see you. >> it's been great to see you. one thing that will be taking place over a number of years is trade. trade is going to increase many times and we look forward to that. but the trade concepts and discussions and the discussions really, i think i can say most importantly that will be taking place are going to lead to tremendous increases in trade between our two countries, which is great for both in terms of jobs, and we look forward to that and we are starting that process pretty much as we speak. so thank you all very much for being here, thank you. [ inaudible ] >> we will be discussing th.


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