Mail rooms have become the battleground for the war on illegal opioid distribution.
“It is spreading dramatically being made in Asia--primarily China--and being shipped to the United States often through postal facilities just like here at O’Hare Airport," Gov. Bruce Rauner says.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl--50 times more potent than heroin--are flooding the U.S. postal system.
“Seizures of fentanyl at ports of entry across the United Sates increased by over 150 percent in fiscal year 2017 with over 400 seizures nationwide," Matthew Davies, area port director for the U.S. CBP said.
The majority of those fentanyl shipments are coming through seven major mail facilities including Chicago, which is only second to New York’s JFK in terms of quantities seized.
Officials say shippers are going to great lengths to hide the narcotics, like placing them inside seemingly innocuous packaging like inside diet pills or cosmetic products.
"The people who are importing these things are always changing their methods, coming up with new and creative ways to try to hide it and conceal it in different kinds of packages," Davies said.
Along with K9 teams, authorities are using x-ray machines and newer equipment like infrared spectrometers to allow them to rapidly identify unknown substances.
Something they say is particularly important here in Chicago.
“Fentanyl seizures made here in the international mail environment are typically of extremely high potency and purity and are consequently more lethal," Davies said.