Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was in Orange County, New York Monday to announce legislation to combat online opioid sales. He spoke at the Middletown Police Department, alongside a woman whose son died from an overdose two years ago.
After six people in Orange County died of drug overdoses over the past two weeks, Congressman Maloney says he is introducing the Stop Online Opioid Sales Act to require the Drug Enforcement Agency to collect information on such drug sales and issue an annual report to inform a federal response.
“Right now, the federal government doesn’t keep good data, really, any data, on the sales of opioids over the internet,” Maloney says.
Maloney, whose 18th District includes all of Orange County, says that because there is no comprehensive reporting on the sale of drugs through the internet, the Senate investigated the issue and came out with a bipartisan report in January indicating that fentanyl sales from China alone totaled more than $800 million in the past two years.
“A couple of flakes of it can kill you and, in a single postage-size envelope, you could have enough fentanyl to get 50,000 people high,” Maloney says. “So it can be very effective to transport drugs, synthetic drugs like fentanyl, through the mail.”
Westchester County resident Stephanie Keegan held up a photo of her son Daniel.
“Daniel was an 8-year veteran of the 82nd Airborne 7th Special Forces group. He was the 2009 7th Special Forces group Soldier of the Year at Fort Bragg. Dan died on January 8, 2016 because of his opioid addiction, while he was waiting for treatment from the VA for PTSD,” Keegan says. “He waited 16 months and died two weeks before his first appointment.”
She says Maloney’s bill would go a long way toward saving lives and slowing down the influx of drugs ordered through the internet.
“Daniel used to tell me all the time that he was able to get his heroin ordered online with a credit card and FedExed to his front door. He was a young man with PTSD who never wanted to leave his house and never had to leave his house because these resources were so easily made available to him,” Keegan says. “And, after he died, and the police had his computer and they had his cell phone, wherever that source was that he was getting it from disappeared, just melted like ether, but he is now one of those statistics that no family should be a part of.”
John Ewanciw is Middletown Police Chief.
“Right now, we are fortunate to have had no known incidents of this type of drug distribution into our local Middletown community,” Ewanciw says.
Maloney says he has been trained in administering NARCAN to reverse an overdose and keeps a kit in his congressional vehicle’s glove compartment. He believes his legislation will tackle an area for which law enforcement and federal agencies need more information.
“And we’ve got to have strategies at the federal level that see this as the new front in the war on drugs because the big quantities of drugs are not going to be coming in some van by some drug dealer. They’re going to be coming in the UPS or the FedEx truck or the U.S. mail ordered by some dealer who’s using the web site,” says Maloney. “And that, I think, comes as a shock, and we don’t have good data on it, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Meantime, President Trump unveiled his proposed budget Monday which includes some $13 billion over two years to fight the opioid epidemic. Here’s Keegan.
“It’s an awfully good start,” says Keegan. “And I’d love for him to be able to take credit for that, but it was the hard work of a lot of legislators really, really pushed for this.”
Keegan attended Trump’s State of the Union address January 30 as a guest of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to highlight the opioid epidemic.