Senator Recently Introduced NARCO Act to Fight Drug Financing Schemes
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today pressed key administration officials on addressing drug trafficking through targeting criminals’ money laundering. The hearing was held as a new report revealed more than 100,000 overdose deaths in the United States between April 2020 and April 2021.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
“While we are talking today about illicit international drug trafficking, it is really important that we also recognize that all of this illicit trafficking is influenced by demand here at home. We certainly know that the pharma industry has influenced that demand, sometimes with reckless, other times with predatory, behavior, and sometimes enabled by fairly lax FDA oversight and potential conflicts of interest there,” Senator Hassan said.
During the hearing, the Senator discussed her new amendment to the national defense bill to strengthen and coordinate the federal government’s response to drug financing schemes and authorize assistance to states to tackle money laundering related to the illicit narcotics trade.
“We feel at the Department of Justice that there is more we can do in this regard. We can place prosecutors if we have the funding to do it, to serve as mentors, again focused on cases, on building out cases involving illicit finance that affects our country,” said Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Counselor for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Senator Hassan also discussed illicit fentanyl trade that originates in China and goes to Mexico and then the United States. Senator Hassan asked, “Criminals profit at every stage, how can we use existing money laundering rules to combat the financing of illicit fentanyl trade?” Ambassador Todd D. Robinson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Department of State discussed the work within the U.S. and with foreign countries to investigate money laundering.
In addition, Senator Hassan and Swartz talked about ongoing efforts to pursue and shut down Dark Web illegal drug marketplaces in the U.S. and around the world. Senator Hassan said, “I share the encouragement that you expressed about recent operations spearheaded by the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement, or J-CODE, such as Operations Dark HunTor and DisrupTor that have taken down illegal drug marketplaces on the Dark Web and led to hundreds of arrests worldwide. I am working on legislation to permanently authorize J-CODE and bolster the resources it receives.”
Swartz stated, “J-CODE I think represents the future of much of what we’re going to see in terms of dealing with illicit finance, particularly as we move towards the dark net and cryptocurrencies, and by bringing together experts both on the drug side, the money laundering side, and our cyber experts, it is the future of how we’re going to interact.”