Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

House Takes Action Against Foreign Drug Kingpins

May 11, 2016
Press Release
First In A Package Of Anti-Heroin Measures

Bill Now Goes To President

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today praised House passage of two bipartisan bills that enhance America’s ability to combat drug traffickers and cut off the flow of heroin into the country.

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015, previously approved by the Senate, now goes to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation allows federal prosecutors to go after drug traffickers in foreign countries when there is a reasonable suspicion to believe that their drugs will make it into the United States. Buchanan is a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill.

The House also approved the Kingpin Designation Improvement Act (H.R. 4985), legislation strongly supported by Buchanan that improves the United States’ ability to prosecute international drug kingpins and impose the toughest sanctions possible on them without risking the public disclosure of classified information in court proceedings. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. This measure builds upon past success of the original Kingpin Act, passed in 1999, which denies major drug traffickers access to the U.S. financial markets and prohibits all trade and transactions between them and American companies and individuals.

“In order to curb the heroin and drug abuse epidemic, we must sever the supply of drugs into our country while enhancing education, prevention and treatment programs,” Buchanan said. “Both of these bills will give federal prosecutors critical tools to target and prevent drug traffickers from smuggling heroin and other lethal drugs into the U.S.”

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.

Heroin is considered the most addictive substance in the world and is cheaper to obtain than prescription narcotics. “Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Colombia dominate the U.S. heroin market, because of their proximity, established transportation and distribution infrastructure, and ability to satisfy U.S. heroin demand,” according to a Drug Enforcement Administration report.

Later this week the House is poised to take up a slate of additional bills addressing the heroin and drug abuse crisis, including the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 5046), which Buchanan has co-sponsored. This legislation provides over $500 million in funding to state and local entities to enhance anti-drug education, prevention and treatment programs.

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and other key stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, author of H.R. 5046, anti-drug experts and a recovering heroin addict.

Buchanan has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.