Marino, Katko bills to crack down on international drug traffickers approved by committee

The House Judiciary Committee approved bills on Wednesday that were introduced by U.S. Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA) and John Katko (R-NY) to crack down on international drug trafficking.

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015, H.R. 3380, authored by Marino, would give law enforcers the authority to pursue international drug traffickers who don’t actually traffic drugs in the United States.

“The drug epidemic in our country begins well beyond our borders,” Marino said. “Loopholes in current law allow foreign manufacturers of controlled substances and precursor chemicals to evade conviction by denying their intent to bring the narcotics into the United States. Our law enforcement officials need every tool at their disposal to combat the flow of deadly substances into our country and our communities. This bill ensures that bad actors, truly intending to bring dangerous and addictive drugs into the U.S., will face justice and incur the penalties they deserve.”

The bill would establish penalties for the trafficking of “listed chemicals” that can be used to manufacture drugs. It would also clarify current law to make clear that only those who knowingly transport illegal substances can be prosecuted.

The committee also approved the Kingpin Act, H.R. 4985, coauthored by Katko and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). The measure would protect classified court documents involving drug kingpins, and would allow the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to designate international drug traffickers as “kingpins” and block them from accessing the U.S. financial system.

“As a former federal organized crime and narcotics prosecutor, I recognize that attacking the heroin epidemic requires the targeting of high-level drug traffickers – both domestically and internationally,” Katko said. “In order to do so effectively, we must ensure that we are able to impose the toughest sanctions on these drug kingpins. This important, bipartisan legislation strengthens the process by which we hold international drug traffickers accountable in federal court, while protecting classified information from disclosure.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the two bills would allow prosecutors “to beat these criminals at their game” by giving prosecutors new tools to identify and prosecute international drug traffickers.

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