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Senators Hassan, Cornyn and Representatives Pappas, Gonzales Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on Dark Web Drug Trafficking

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), along with Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Tony Gonzales (R-TX), reintroduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to strengthen penalties on drug dealers and target international fentanyl trafficking through the dark web.

“The dark web is a hotspot for illegal drug trafficking and allows criminals to become essentially untraceable, which helps fuel the fentanyl crisis in our state and across the country,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill strengthens efforts to crack down on dark web drug trafficking by increasing penalties for drug dealers. I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this critical legislation to hold these criminals accountable.”

"The dark web provides anonymity to society's worst criminals, and functions as a trade hub for deadly opioids like fentanyl," said Senator Cornyn. "The Dark Web Interdiction Act will take several critical steps to help law enforcement more easily find and apprehend these dangerous dealers while keeping Congress abreast of their progress."

"Through my many conversations with local law enforcement, public health experts, and advocates across New Hampshire, it remains clear that we must do more to confront the addiction crisis, stop the trafficking of fentanyl and other deadly substances, and support people suffering from substance use disorder," said Congressman Pappas. "I’ve heard directly from law enforcement about the use of the dark web to procure and ship drugs into our communities, and we must crack down on this practice and hold traffickers accountable for the harm they have caused. I am grateful for the leadership of Senator Hassan and Senator Cornyn in the Senate, and I will continue working with Congressman Gonzales to pass this legislation through the House.”

“The opioid crisis is getting worse, and communities across TX-23 and the nation are faced with the repercussions,” said Congressman Gonzales. “The Dark Web Interdiction Act would give law enforcement officers the resources they need to help combat the rising trend of dark web drug dealers who have used the platform as a way to peddle illegal drugs across the United States. I am proud to once again co-lead this bipartisan effort to help law enforcement apprehend and convict contraband dealers across the dark web."

The bipartisan, bicameral Dark Web Interdiction Act would:

  • Increases criminal penalties on individuals convicted of trafficking illegal drugs on the dark web by directing the United States Sentencing Commission to enhance sentencing for those individuals.
  • Strengthens and makes permanent the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) task force that leads coordinated international, federal, state, and local efforts to combat drug trafficking on the dark web. Since its creation in 2018, J-CODE has led to hundreds of arrests worldwide, seizures of thousands of pounds of narcotics, and the closure of several dark web marketplaces.
  • Directs the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Treasury Department to issue a report to Congress within one year detailing the use of cryptocurrency on the dark web, as well as provide recommendations for how Congress can address the use of virtual currency for opioid trafficking on the dark web.

Senator Hassan is working to crack down on illicit drug trafficking. Senator Hassan recently visited Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to speak with foreign officials about efforts to crack down on drug trafficking. In addition, the most recent year-end funding bill included a measure backed by Senator Hassan and Congressman Pappas to extend fentanyl analogue scheduling, in order to keep criminals from using loopholes to traffic deadly opioids. The Senator successfully worked to secure her bipartisan measure in the 2021 year-end funding bill to hold countries such as China accountable for facilitating America’s fentanyl-fueled substance misuse crisis. Senator Hassan also worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided critical tools to Customs and Border Protection to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids.