Feinstein, Grassley Outline Steps to Combat West African Drug Trade

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today released a bipartisan report: Eight Steps to Counter the Drug Trade in West Africa that provides recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration to counter illicit activities surrounding the West African drug trade.

            Senator Feinstein said: “The rising drug trade in West Africa has become increasingly dangerous in recent years—destabilizing governments, enriching criminal groups and funding terrorist organizations—including Hezbollah and Al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb. Given the threat the illegal drug trade poses to democratic gains and economic progress in the region, partnering with our allies in West Africa to combat the flow of drugs is a win-win for both the United States and the region.”

            Senator Grassley said: “The huge profits generated from the West African drug trade aren’t just lining the pockets of drug traffickers and common criminals. Known terrorist organizations, with deep-seated hatred of the United States, use profits from drug sales to support their networks and training camps around the world. This report offers recommendations to address key weaknesses that allow the West African drug trade to flourish and fund terrorism against the United States and its allies.”

            The report recommends:

  • Strengthening the U.S.-funded West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative by developing a regional interdiction strategy that targets priority individuals and organizations in West Africa, including drug traffickers with ties to terrorist organizations;
  • Blocking West African drug traffickers’ access to the U.S. financial system by adding them to the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers list;
  • Prioritizing the targeting of finances of transnational criminal groups operating in West Africa;
  • Mapping the local and international drug trafficking organizations and terrorist groups operating in West Africa and how they interact with each other;
  • Passing the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2013 (S. 706);
  • Assessing where Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) highly vetted units are most needed and working with host country counterparts to establish them;
  • Providing DEA-funded clandestine methamphetamine laboratory training to West African counterparts; and
  • Encouraging West African partners to report to the United Nations on precursor chemicals for methamphetamine being shipped through their countries.

            The Caucus originally held a hearing on the West African drug trade on May 16, 2012. 

            The report is endorsed by all members of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control: Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), James E. Risch (R-Idaho) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

            The entire report can be found here.