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Washington—The Senate today passed a bill introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to help combat transnational drug trafficking.

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act (S. 706) is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The bill would provide the Department of Justice with new tools to prosecute drug traffickers from foreign countries. Specifically, it will help the department build extradition cases on drug kingpins from the Andean region, which includes Colombia and Peru. Kingpins from these countries often use Mexican drug trafficking organizations as intermediaries to ship illegal narcotics to the United States.

“This bill gives law enforcement necessary tools to reduce the supply of drugs crossing our borders,” said Senator Feinstein, chair of the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. “The federal government needs the authority to aggressively pursue transnational criminal organizations and drug kingpins to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United States from foreign countries.”

“Since drug cartels are continually evolving, this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace,” said Senator Grassley, co-chair of the U.S. 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.”

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, S. 706:

  • Establishes penalties for extraterritorial 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 “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime”.

Representatives Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives, but it was not approved before the House adjourned. Senators Feinstein and Grassley plan to reintroduce the bill in the next congress.