Hill addresses forms of trafficking during House committee hearing

U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-AR) on March 4 helped lead the first in a series of hearings by the U.S. House Financial Services Committee’s Counter-Trafficking Initiative aimed at exploring and exposing the impacts of transnational trafficking networks.

“Trafficking is a major concern in the United States, and I look forward to working jointly with the Department of Treasury, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center to design new tools to stop this growing threat,” said Rep. Hill, ranking member of the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy.

During the hearing entitled, “The Traffickers’ Roadmap: How Bad Actors Exploit Financial Systems to Facilitate the Illicit Trade in People, Animals, Drugs, and Weapons,” the congressman pointed out that drug trafficking has infiltrated his home state of Arkansas, where it “continues to be a heightened concern.

“Overdoses are rising across Arkansas and fentanyl continues to be a growing threat in our communities,” he said.

To help solve the problem, Rep. Hill was the lead original cosponsor of the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, H.R. 2483, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) to establish programs to address illicit opioid trafficking and impose sanctions on foreign individuals and entities involved in such activities, according to the congressional record summary.

The legislation, which became law as part of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, “applies pressure on the Chinese government to honor their commitment to make fentanyl illegal and provide the United States with more tools and resources to go after illicit traffickers in China, Mexico, and other countries,” Rep. Hill said.

The lawmaker also addressed terrorist financing, a topic he said he’s interested in learning more about, particularly “how and when the lines between terrorist financing and trafficking financing became more blurred.”

“As I understand it, following the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush invoked an executive order which has made it more difficult for terrorist groups to access their funding,” said Rep. Hill. “As a result, global terrorism has merged with organized crime to create financing workarounds.”

Drug and human trafficking, terrorist financing and organized crime, he added, recently were pegged as some of the most significant threats and vulnerabilities for allowing illicit proceeds to the enter the U.S., according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s 2020 National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing, which was released last month.