We Cannot Allow Criminal Cartels to Operate With Impunity

This week, I held a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing over the topic of Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) and the threat they pose to the United States by way of our open southern border.

TCOs are groups or networks of individuals who engage in illegal activities across national borders. They engage in a multi-faceted criminal enterprise from drug trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, and other criminal acts. Organized crime is a massive business. In fact, it is a multi-billion dollar business. 

TCOs are responsible for trafficking deadly drugs like illicit fentanyl and other opioids into American communities, fueling violence and corruption, and undermining the rule of law. These enterprises exploit our porous Southern border to advance their criminal agendas, as they facilitate and profit off of the smuggling and trafficking of people, often victimizing susceptible migrants who are traveling along the treacherous journey from Central and South America to the United States. 

These cartels purchase precursor chemicals from China, which are shipped to South America and Mexico, and use those precursors to produce fentanyl and even process that fentanyl into counterfeit prescription pills. The cartels then traffic these drugs from Mexico into the United States for distribution.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Mexican TCOs, in particular, control smuggling corridors, mainly across the southwest border, and maintain “the greatest drug trafficking influence” in the United States.

In fact, fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 to 45, and the scourge of fentanyl has hit every single one of our communities. In February, two of my constituents lost their son, Jackson Lee Warnick, age 17, to fentanyl poisoning. Jackson’s parents had to live through a nightmare that no parent should ever have to endure. Since then, Jackson’s family has been working tirelessly across the Permian Basin to share their son’s story to help educate folks on the dangers posed by synthetic opioids. 

Cartels are also beginning to mix fentanyl with xylazine—a powerful sedative that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has permitted for veterinary use—causing fatal overdoses across the country. I have introduced legislation to crack down on illicit uses of Xylazine while protecting its critical purpose in agriculture and veterinary medicine. 

I will continue to fight to secure our southern border and communities. Watch the full hearing by clicking here.


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