WASHINGTON (WNEW) — Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee on Thursday that there is a “shocking” number of people who are using the U.S. Postal Service to send illegal drugs around the country.
Speaking at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Thursday, Holder agreed with Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski that “the mails” are the vehicle for drugs that are causing a “devastating impact” on rural communities.
“The postal service, — the mails are — being used to facilitate drug dealing,” Holder said. “It is shocking to see the amount of drugs that get pumped into communities all around this country through our mail system, and we have to deal with that.”
Sen. Murkowski and the nation’s top law-enforcement official said the postal service has the ability to reach the remote communities, often with ease.
“We’re seeing some really devastating impact in our very, very remote communities where the only way to get these drugs in is by the mail, and the drugs are coming into the community through the mails,” Murkowski told the committee.
“Through the post office?” interrupted a surprised Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat.
“Through the United States post office, madam chairman,” Murkowski replied. “We need to get on it yesterday.”
The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper reported that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made 1,760 arrests in fiscal year 2012 for catching people “snail-mailing” drugs across the country. The 2012 data was up 33 percent from 2011.
Many senators in the hearing focused on heroin, with Sen. Mikulski saying that heroin is “selling in Baltimore today for $6 a bag, cheaper than buying a bag of kale.” She complained that suburban drug tourists were coming to the inner cities to tap into the heroin markets.
Holder, present before the Senate Appropriations Committee to review the Justice Department’s 2015 budget request, agreed that heroin would be the focus of multiple agencies.