HR 4102, the SAFE Mail Act, would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement a screening program capable of detecting the presence of illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in inbound international mail and cargo. The screening program would be used to screen both postal mail and cargo, which is defined as shipments from an express consignment operator or carrier. DHS would be required to research and develop an automated, nonintrusive method for detecting the presence of illicit opioids within two years of the bill's enactment. The designed method must not result in unreasonable delays in the delivery of mail and cargo. In development of the program, the bill allows, but does not require, incorporation of any or all of the findings and results of the Opioid Detection Challenge.
HR 4102 limits the application of the screening program to inbound mail and cargo from specific countries deemed to be high-risk. A “high-risk country” is defined in the bill as one that “poses a high risk of being the source of international mail and express cargo… containing illicit fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids.” DHS has the authority to determine which countries are high-risk on an ongoing basis. The bill would compel the screening of 50 percent of inbound mail and cargo from high-risk countries within eighteen months. Screening of 100 percent of inbound mail and cargo from high-risk countries would be required within three years.
The bill would also task the following agencies with coordinating the development, implementation, and oversight of the program with DHS:
Illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are among the primary drivers of the opioid crisis in the United States. Increasingly, these illegal substances are entering the United States from international producers via postal mail and other shipping services. The production of synthetic opioids that are entering the United States can often be tied to specific countries.