S. 32, Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015

S. 32

Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015

Sponsor
Rep. Tom Marino

Committee
Judiciary

Date
May 10, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Robert Goad

Floor Situation

 On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, the House will consider S. 32, the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, under suspension of the rules. S. 32 is the identical Senate version of H.R. 3380, which was introduced on July 29, 2015 by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), and was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Committee on the Judiciary ordered H.R. 3380 reported by voice vote on April 20, 2016.

Bill Summary

S. 32 amends the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (CSIEA) to given U.S. law enforcement an additional tool to identify and target drug traffickers in Central and South American “source nations”. According to the Committee, increasingly, such traffickers have been selling their illicit products to Mexican traffickers, who in turn traffic the drugs into the United States. This makes it very difficult for federal prosecutors to prove the “source nation” traffickers knew the drugs were bound for the U.S. To address this problem, S. 32 incorporates a “reasonable cause to believe” mens rea standard into the CSIEA, which will allow the Government to argue that a defendant had “reasonable cause to believe” the drugs he was conspiring to traffic were bound for the United States.

The bill also amends the CSIEA to prohibit extraterritorial trafficking of listed chemicals for the manufacture of controlled substances that are to be unlawfully imported into the U.S., which will enable federal law enforcement to reach chemical traffickers who knowingly facilitate and benefit from the trafficking operation, even if they do not actually take part in the manufacturing and trafficking conspiracy..

In addition, the bill amends the federal criminal code to revise the prohibition against, and penalties for, intentionally trafficking in a counterfeit drug to apply to intentionally trafficking in a drug and knowingly using a counterfeit mark on or in connection with such drug.

Background

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, with more than 28,000 deaths involving some type of opioid, including heroin.[1]

Under current law, it is very difficult for federal prosecutors to make cases against “source-nation” manufacturers, wholesale distributors, brokers, and transporters of drugs since direct evidence of their intent that the drugs are bound for the U.S. is difficult to prove. According to the committee, these individuals feign ignorance of the drug’s ultimate destination and escape prosecution.[2]

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[1] See CDC: Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths – United States, 2000-2014
[2] See “Chairman Goodlatte’s Statement on Markup of H.R. 3380, the ‘Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015’”

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently unavailable.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Robert Goad with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1831.