BALTIMORE (WJZ)– U.S. Customs and Border Protection says more than ever before, international mail packed with opioids is pouring in.

A Senate investigation revealed dealers are growing their supply through international mailing. They buy drugs online that are mailed in from other countries and then sell them locally, which is creating a challenge for law enforcement and lawmakers.

The U.S. CPB announced it seized more than 180 pounds of fentanyl in 2017. Some of the deadly drugs slipped by into mailboxes in Maryland.

“It’s a huge problem. It’s a big part of our epidemic, with the fentanyl that’s coming across the border from Mexico, as well as coming through the U.S. mail,” said Captain Lee Dunbar of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

Captain Dunbar leads Harford County’s Elite Opioid Task Force. He says the unit now works with Homeland Security investigators to intercept international deliveries of drugs that fuel the local drug trade.

Like a shipment of fentanyl they caught in November.

“That was being repackaged and he was redistributing it back out through Harford County and surrounding areas,” Captain Dunbar said.

For nearly a year, Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman and a team of investigators have tracked the deadly, door-to-door delivery of opioids.

“The big problem is the P.O. box in America that gets a shipment through our postal service straight from China,” Sen. Portman said.

His investigators started with a simple Google search, which turned up retailers ready to make a deal.

“Our fentanyl is very good” one seller wrote.

“All must go till first of July… is a hot sale,” added another.

In a separate probe, Sen. Portman’s team used shipping and payment data to track 500 apparently successful deliveries of opioids nationwide. The deals totaled nearly $250 million, which is sparking calls for a crackdown, while deputies in Harford County work day and night to trace the dangerous supply chain.

“It’s critical. It saves lives. Fentanyl is our number one killer by far,” Captain Dunbar said.

He says a statewide authority that allows them to track the drugs across jurisdictional boundaries is the key to their investigations.

The postal service is supposed to work with Customs and Border Protection, but Sen. Portman says they struggle with volume and poor coordination.

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