Members of Coalition To Close The De Minimis Loophole Provide Evidence Demonstrating the Significant Role De Minimis Plays in Illicit Fentanyl Trafficking

De Minimis and Fentanyl

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the Coalition to Close the De Minimis Loophole, representing diverse American voices and millions of people committed to fix the de minimis crisis—from the families of victims of fentanyl fatalities, law enforcement, drug prevention organizations and nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations, including labor unions, manufacturers, business associations and consumer safety advocacy organizations—sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) providing information demonstrating the major role de minimis exemptions play in facilitating illicit fentanyl trafficking, poisonings and deaths.

The following organizations signed the letter to House Ways and Means : Coalition for a Prosperous America, Facing Fentanyl, Families Against Fentanyl, Fentanyl Victims Network of North Carolina, Kelsie’s Cause, Lost Voices of Fentanyl, National Association of Police Organizations, National Crime Prevention Council, National Sheriffs’ Association, Shatterproof, Voices for Awareness, and Victims of Illicit Drugs (VOID). Earlier this year, 25 organizations launched the Coalition to Close the De Minimis Loophole to amplify the urgent need to close the de minimis loophole. Read the full text of the letter here.

“As members of the coalition, we are writing to provide additional information and share our firsthand experience with China’s exploitation of our de minimis tariff exemption to silently flood the United States with fentanyl, fentanyl precursors, pill presses, and other illicit goods,” the coalition members wrote in their letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA). “The de minimis loophole is facilitating a free flow of illegal and dangerous products—including deadly fentanyl poison—responsible for killing tens of thousands of Americans each year including our spouses, partners, children, and other precious family members and friends.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioids—primarily illicit fentanyl—remain the largest cause of overdose deaths in the United States. Fentanyl kills on average over 200 Americans daily, the equivalent of a packed Boeing 737 crashing every single day. Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45 and a leading cause in the historic drop in American life expectancy.

“Especially as the volume of de minimis packages has exploded, totally overwhelming what already was minimal government inspection, those who seek to smuggle contraband across borders without detection have become increasingly interested in using de minimis to gain entry into the United States for their deadly wares. We are compelled to underscore that today de minimis serves as a major artery for the flow of fentanyl and other illicit and harmful products into our country,” the letter stated. “Given the fentanyl epidemic’s devastating impact on families and communities, it is imperative that the Committee accurately and fully diagnose the de minimis loophole’s relationship to the flood of fentanyl entering our country.”

The Coalition’s letter comes on the heels of a Ways and Means Committee hearing on April 17, during which committee members discussed legislation to address the de minimis loophole and highlighted fentanyl being trafficked into the U.S. primarily via the southern border.

“Fentanyl and precursors are entering the U.S. through the international mail and expedited via purposely negligible de minimis entry and screening procedures. This is not theoretical, nor is it a limited problem,” the letter stated.

Comprehensive evidence regarding the widespread and large-scale nature of China’s fentanyl production and international trafficking was detailed by the House Select Committee on the CCP the same week as the Ways and Means markup.

“The Select Committee provided evidence that fentanyl is readily available from Chinese online platforms and that its delivery is facilitated by the lack of oversight in the de minimis environment,” the letter continued. “Citing law enforcement testimony that cartels are using our lax de minimis enforcement given the astonishing number of packages flooding to the United States daily, the Committee concluded “the current form of the de minimis exception makes the United States the most vulnerable nation in North America to this form of drug trafficking.”

The Coalition said it stands ready to help educate members as they develop a comprehensive and lasting legislative solution to the de minimis issue with full understanding of the flow of fentanyl through the de minimis customs loophole.

Read the full text of the letter here. For more information about the impact of the de minimis loophole, click here.

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