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Senators Hassan, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Drug Trafficking Through the Dark Web

Bipartisan Bill Strengthens Efforts to Prosecute Drug Dealers on the Dark Web and Target International Fentanyl Trafficking from China and Mexico

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase penalties for drug dealers and strengthen the United States’ efforts to crack down on people trafficking illegal drugs through the dark web.


“Drug dealers are using the dark corners of the internet to sell deadly drugs that are fueling the substance misuse crisis in New Hampshire and across the country,” Senator Hassan said. “These dark web marketplaces, which often rely on cryptocurrency for payment, are an increasing threat to our ongoing efforts to stem the flow of fentanyl and other drugs into our communities. I am teaming up with Senator Cornyn to crack down on dealers caught trafficking drugs on the dark web, target international fentanyl trafficking from China and Mexico, and strengthen our overall efforts to disrupt and dismantle these illegal marketplaces.”


"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."


The bipartisan Dark Web Interdiction Act:


  • Increases criminal penalties for someone caught 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 (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 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.


This bipartisan bill is part of Senator Hassan’s efforts to combat the substance misuse crisis in New Hampshire and across the country. In 2019, Senator Hassan traveled to China, where she pushed Chinese officials to address fentanyl trafficking. The Senator then worked with her colleagues to address this issue – and the most recent annual defense bill included a bipartisan measure from Senators Hassan and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to hold China and other bad actors accountable for contributing to America’s fentanyl-fueled opioid crisis. In addition, Senator Hassan has worked across the aisle to get law enforcement officials the tools that they need to intercept drug trafficking through the mail and at the U.S.-Mexico border. And Senator Hassan has teamed up with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to crack down on fentanyl analogues and enhance DOJ’s ability to go after drug traffickers of synthetic opioids.


Text of the Dark Web Interdiction Act can be found here.