On 16 June 2016, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing to gauge the progress and challenges of transnational criminal threats. Here’s a summary of relevant testimony from the Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
In this Dispatch…
- Summary of Congressional testimony on transnational organized crime
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- Transnational organized crime (TOC) includes illegal trafficking in drugs and people, as well as cybercrime.
- U.S. consumption of cocaine is down 50% over the past two years, but the U.S. needs to transition to the heroin epidemic.
- Most heroin used in the originates in Mexico. In the past three years, Mexican heroin production has doubled.
- In the past two years, the cocaine production in Columbia has doubled.
- Afghanistan produces over 80% of the world’s heroin.
- TOC requires corruption and poor economic conditions to thrive.
- Mexican TOCs replaced declining demand for cocaine for increasing demand for heroin.
- Mexican TOCs have vertical integration, having control over both production and logistics.
- Columbia used to produce half of the heroin used in the U.S., and Mexico has replaced that production, being closer to the U.S.
- Fentynol is being produced in China, and is cheaper to produce. Sen. Corker is concerned that it’s the next epidemic.
- The challenge for law enforcement is going after then thousands or tens of thousands of acres under poppy cultivation.
- There’s a major amount of influence and penetration of Mexican TOCs in the border region.
- In many instances, drug trafficking and human trafficking are done by the same organizations.
- The TOCs are skilled and well-informed enough to identify weak points in border security.
- Transnational criminal databases are greatly aiding the interdiction and law enforcement effort.
- China is the world’s largest pharmaceutical industry. There may be up to 160,000 pharmaceutical companies in China.
- China is producing hundreds of pharmaceuticals products per year, but only 20-30 per year are registered with the UN.
- The overwhelming majority of fentanyl consumed in the U.S. is produced in China.
- A gram of fentanyl is 80-100 times as powerful as morphine and 40-50 times as powerful as heroin.
- Fentanyl distribution can be facilitated through the mail.
You can watch the entire testimony here.