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John K.
Republican NY 24

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  • Kingpin Designation Improvement Act of 2016

    by Representative John Katko

    Posted on 2016-05-10

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    KATKO. Mr. Speaker, let me start by thanking Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte for his efforts and his committee's efforts in shepherding this bill through the committee, where it received unanimous support.

    I also want to thank my colleague across the aisle, Representative Rice. We have partnered together on many bills that have passed the House to help keep our country safe and to keep it free from drug trafficking. Both of us having a background as prosecutors on a Federal level will help us going forward.

    This legislation makes important changes that strengthen the Kingpin Act and enhance the protection of classified information. The Kingpin Act has played an important role in our Nation's efforts to fight drug trafficking for nearly two decades. In the last two decades, I was heavily involved with drug trafficking as a Federal organized crime prosecutor, so I understand the importance of the statute on a firsthand basis.

    The act established a process to sanction individuals involved in international narcotics trafficking. More than 1,800 individuals, all non-U.S. persons, have been designated as drug kingpins by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control under the Kingpin Act. This designation precludes these traffickers from using the U.S. financial system and, in so doing, places a major obstacle in front of their efforts to move and use their ill-gotten gains.

    Many of the individuals placed on the kingpin list are put there on the basis of classified information. The law provides a process by which these individuals can seek removal from the list in Federal court, but, unfortunately, the law currently doesn't protect classified information in such delisting cases. This opens up the possibility that some kingpins won't be sanctioned at all or will be removed from the kingpin list, despite significant evidence of their illicit activities, in order to protect classified information.

    This bill simply makes it clear that the Office of Foreign Assets Control may submit classified information in defense of its kingpin designations in a nonpublic, protected setting in order to safeguard classified information. This bill will make it easier to sanction international drug kingpins who cause enormous problems both in the United States and in their home countries. It will make it harder for these criminals to carry out their dangerous and destructive drug trade.

    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the House's consideration of this bill, alongside several other important measures, to fight back against the opioid epidemic gripping much of our Nation, and certainly in my district as well.

    My district has been extremely hard-hit by this epidemic as well as a scourge of dangerous synthetic substances, which I hope to address at a later time during this Congress. Almost every family in my district has been affected by this epidemic or knows someone who has.

    We need to fight back against the kingpins for profiteering off this misery. It is gratifying to see the House working together across the aisle to tackle these enormous problems, and our country will be better off for it.

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