Last week, Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations, discussed CBP’s efforts to counter the flow of illegal synthetic opioids into the United States through the international mail. He shared that 2.2 million parcels arrive to the United States each day; that number has grown from 1.5 million since just last year.

Mr. Owen calls on innovators to submit ideas to the Opioid Detection Challenge for new technologies and capabilities to detect illicit opioids in parcels, especially in very small quantities.

“These [new capabilities] can be hardware-based, such as new sensors or sniffers. They can also software-based, such as new algorithms to analyze x-ray images. We have over $1.5 million in prize funding available for the best solutions, as well as the opportunity to have the best technologies piloted and deployed in operational environments.”

— Todd Owen, Executive Assistant Commissioner, CBP Office of Field Operations

Reminder: One week left to submit ideas for new detection tools and technologies

As a reminder, submissions are due by 4:59 PM ET next Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

Submissions should be well-developed plans for automated, user-friendly tools and technologies that have the potential to quickly and accurately detect opioids in parcels, without disrupting the flow of mail.

The Challenge is open to international and domestic participants, as defined in the Rules, Terms and Conditions.

Have questions? See the FAQ and informational webinar recording

We recently published a summary of the questions innovators asked during the informational webinar and throughout the open submissions period.

A few commonly asked questions:

  • Can I submit more than one time?
  • What types of compounds do solutions need to be able to detect?
  • Can existing technologies or patents be submitted?
  • Is there a limit on how much a solution can cost?

See all questions and answers. Do you have a question that hasn’t been answered? Contact us at