U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, PA-10, today introduced a bill that would make it easier for the United States to prosecute foreign drug traffickers by closing a loophole in current law.
HR3909, The Targeting Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, is a companion bill to bi-partisan legislation passed by the U.S. Senate in December. Chief sponsors of the Senate version are Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Currently, foreign drug kingpins, particularly those in Colombia and Peru, use Mexican drug trafficking organizations as intermediaries for shipping illegal narcotics into the United States. Prosecutors often have trouble establishing the connection since the drugs go to other countries before entering the United States.
Marino's bill would close this loophole by establishing penalties for drug trafficking activity when a foreign drug dealer has "reasonable cause to believe" that an illegal drug shipment will reach the United States. The bill also ensures that current penalties apply to foreign chemical producers who illegally ship drug-precursor chemicals into the United States knowing that these substances are intended for the production of illegal drugs.
"I was a U.S. Attorney and county prosecutor so I know how critical it is to have all the necessary tools to bring these foreign drug dealers to justice," Marino said. "In my work I have seen how drug use devastates lives and families. The simple truth is that criminals in Colombia or Peru are going unprosecuted while reaping billions of dollars from drug activity. This common-sense measure helps us to fight back."
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hold a hearing this week on transnational crime where the Department of Justice plans to highlight Marino's legislation along with other issues.