WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bipartisan Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit Stipend Act to authorize the existing Transnational Criminal Investigative Units (TCIUs) in law. TCIUs are key components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and operate as teams of foreign law enforcement officers based in 13 countries around the world. These trained and vetted foreign law enforcement partners work with HSI to investigate and prosecute transnational criminal activity, help identify gang members and drug dealers, and collect and share intelligence on transnational criminal organizations.
The bill will authorize the payment of stipends to the TCIU foreign law enforcement officers who are vetted and trained here in the United States. Additionally, it requires that TCIU members undergo continuous vetting and for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to submit a report to Congress on their vetting procedures.
This bipartisan legislation will enhance ICE HSI’s efforts in identifying and dismantling transnational criminal organizations by reducing high turnover rates that result in the need for TCIU personnel to seek employment opportunities that offer higher compensation. This high turnover rate is detrimental to HSI’s efforts to combat transnational crime, especially given the time and fiscal resources required to recruit, train, and vet new TCIU members and the need for continuity to bring long-term, complex U.S. investigations to a successful conclusion.
“Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit officers play a key role in helping to prevent fentanyl and other dangerous drugs from crossing our border and making their way to communities in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Senator Hassan. “I am pleased to work across the aisle on this legislation to strengthen the efforts of these critical units as we work to combat fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other drug trafficking across the board.”
“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit officers are compensated for their service to combat the illicit narcotics crisis. These foreign law enforcement partners are on the ground to help U.S. law enforcement disrupt and stop the drug cartels from smuggling in illicit narcotics like fentanyl. Considering the most recent CDC data shows that our country faced more than 107,000 drug overdose-related deaths last year, the most ever in a calendar year, with roughly 80 percent of these deaths due to deadly synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation,” said Senator Portman.