Legislation will ensure drug financing is part of the national drug control strategy, better coordinate law enforcement activity, and help states address money laundering by drug traffickers
Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) have introduced as an amendment to the national defense bill the Not Allowing Revenue for Criminal Organizations (NARCO) Act. The legislation would take a number of steps 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.
“Traffickers need to move money in order to move drugs. That’s why our national drug control strategy needs a top-to-bottom plan for addressing traffickers’ financial networks,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This legislation will help federal authorities synchronize efforts to tackle traffickers’ financial networks, including a thorough review of enforcement efforts and help for states to address complex money laundering schemes. Those are important steps in America’s work to dismantle sophisticated drug financing.”
“Cracking down on money laundering is key to stopping drug cartels,” Senator Hassan said. “This commonsense measure will make sure we track the money behind cartels’ drug operations and ensure that states have the resources they need to go after the cartels that are pushing addictive and lethal drugs into our communities. I will continue working with Senator Whitehouse to get this important measure into law.”
In the face of increasingly complex financial schemes by drug trafficking organizations, the federal government’s current national drug control strategy does not explicitly address illicit finance. There is no centralized repository for information on the investigation and prosecution of drug trafficking organizations, nor for how much money the government finds and seizes from traffickers. And there is only a patchwork of often outdated state and local laws to address complicated money laundering practices deployed by drug trafficking organizations. These factors combine to hinder law enforcement’s pursuit of drug money.
The NARCO Act takes a number of steps to address illicit financing by drug trafficking organizations.
Whitehouse has led the charge to strengthen America’s hand against international narcotics trafficking, corruption, and kleptocracy. Last year, Congress passed bipartisan provisions—based on Whitehouse’s TITLE Act—included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to help prevent international criminals and foreign enemies from hiding assets from law enforcement and tax authorities. In the Helsinki Commission and Judiciary Committee, Senator Whitehouse has advanced legislation cracking down on kleptocracy and corruption at home and abroad. First with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and then with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Whitehouse has served since 2013 as the Democratic lead for the annual congressional delegation to the Munich Security Conference.