Feinstein, Grassley Bill to Combat Transnational Organized Crime Passes the Senate

WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to help combat international drug trafficking passed the Senate last night. 

            The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2011 would provide the Justice Department with new tools to prosecute drug traffickers from foreign countries.  In particular, it will help the Justice Department build extradition cases on drug kingpins from the Andean countries of Colombia and Peru who often use Mexican drug trafficking organizations as intermediaries to ship illegal narcotics to the United States.

            The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

            “Transnational criminal organizations constantly find new ways to circumvent our laws,” said Senator Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.  “This bill makes it clear that drug kingpins who export illegal drugs into the United States will be pursued.”

            “Drug cartels are continually evolving, and this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace,” said Senator Grassley, Co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.  “This legislation closes a loophole abused by drug traffickers who intend for drugs to end up in the United States but supply them through an intermediary.”

            “A comprehensive approach to combating drug trafficking needs to extend far beyond our borders,” said Senator Udall.  “With this legislation, prosecutors will have the tools they need to more effectively go after the sources of the illegal drug trade and bring to justice the kingpins who produce and traffic the millions of pounds of narcotics that find their way into our communities every year.”

            “The international drug trade contributes to violent unrest and countless deaths across the world every year. Closing loopholes in the law is necessary to arm the Justice Department with the legal tools they need to crack down on these criminals, who use intermediaries to ship drugs or chemicals into our country, where they threaten the health and safety our citizens,” saidSenator Blumenthal. “These criminals who sidestep accountability in trafficking dangerous, illegal drugs and chemicals into the United States deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

            “This bill will help put an end to that by closing loopholes that protect drug kingpins,” said Senator Casey. “When drug trafficking is left unchecked in foreign countries, it’s easier for dangerous drugs to make their way into Pennsylvania, harming communities and putting a strain on local law enforcement, the last line of defense.  This bill will give law enforcement the necessary tools to take the international drug trade head on.”

            The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2011, S. 1612:

  • Establishes penalties for drug trafficking activity when individuals have reasonable cause to believe that illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States;
  • Ensures current penalties apply to chemical producers from other countries (including producers of pseudoephedrine used for methamphetamine) that illegally ship precursor chemicals into the U.S. knowing these chemicals will be used to make illegal drugs. 

            This bill supports the Obama Administration’s recently released Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime.