For information only - not an official document

19 April 2018

Re-issued as received

INCB/UPU act to help stem tide of trafficking in deadly synthetic opioids

New cooperation agreement between the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and sends message to drug traffickers to stay away from world's postal services, while upholding efforts to protect people's health

VIENNA/BERN, 19 April (UN Information Service) - "Today's global drug landscape is far more complex and challenging than 30 years ago, when the last international drug control treaty was signed. Now there is a specific urgency to stem the increasing illicit flow of deadly fentanyl-related substances wherever they are encountered," INCB President Dr. Viroj Sumyai, said today.

Dr. Sumyai was speaking at a signing ceremony for a cooperation agreement between the two organizations and attended by the UPU Director General Ambassador Bishar A. Hussein. The ceremony was held at UPU's Bern headquarters during a session of the Postal Operations Council.  

"We face a growing public health crisis due to synthetic opioids and other highly toxic substances and UPU is proud to work alongside INCB to protect postal employees, and the health of people everywhere," said UPU Director General Ambassador Hussein in remarks made at the signing ceremony.

The new agreement takes place against a spiralling epidemic in overdose deaths fuelled by powerful fentanyl-related substances that can be 50 times more deadly than heroin.

In the United States, in 2016, there were 64,000 overdose deaths, with the steepest increases in mortalities involving fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances.

Concerns exist that the Internet and anonymous cryptocurrencies are enabling people to purchase toxic opioids and other highly toxic substances.

Postal Services are unwittingly delivering the substances, leading to fears over postal worker safety due to possible contamination.

The INCB/UPU agreement responds to these challenges by promoting technical assistance and training designed to increase cooperation against trafficking and improve the detection and seizure of these substances.

INCB and UPU will also share information on trends and patterns in drug movements, specific INCB intelligence on known sources of dangerous chemicals, as well as information and alerts on concerned substances.

Asked about INCB`s work, Matthew Nice, manager of the OPIOIDS Project said, "the thousands of potential fentanyl analogues and the dangers posed from their high toxicity necessitate UN agencies and private partners to engage in practical actions to ensure that the men and women in the postal services, regulatory, law-enforcement and other first-responders at risk of exposure can safely carry out their functions and serve their communities."

"Our partnership with INCB sends a strong message to drug traffickers - Stay away from the Posts," said Tripp Brinkley, UPU's security manager.

"Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, carfentanil, and other toxic substances, are a direct threat to the safety of the postal supply chain," he added. 

INCB is the independent, quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations international drug control conventions. INCB is mandated to ensure that adequate supplies of drugs are available for legitimate uses, that diversion of drugs from licit sources into illicit channels does not occur, monitor controls over chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of drugs, and assists in preventing the diversion of those chemicals into illicit channels.

UPU was founded in 1874 and joined the UN system as a specialized agency in 1948. Its mission is to facilitate communication by guaranteeing the free circulation of postal items over a single postal territory composed of interconnected networks, and by encouraging the adoption of fair common standards and the use of technology to improve postal services.  


The Vienna-based Board is an independent body, established by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, mandated to monitor and support governments' compliance with the three international drug control treaties. Its 13 members are elected by the Economic and Social Council to serve in their individual capacities for a term of five years.

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For further information, please contact:

Raechelle Newman-Smajli
Drug Control Officer
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Secretariat
Tel.: (+43-1) 26060-5638
Email: raechelle.newman[at]


 David Dadge
Manager, Communication and Events Programme
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
Tel.: +41 31 350 31 23
Email: david.dadge[at]