US President Joe Biden Wednesday signed two new executive orders targeting transnational criminal and drug trafficking networks.
Between April 2020 and April 2021, over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. This represents a 28 percent increase from the previous 12-month period.
One of the executive orders imposes sanctions on foreign persons involved in the global illicit drug trade. The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to impose sanctions on any individual who meets the criteria outlined in the executive order. This includes any individual who engages in activities that “materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.”
Biden also signed an executive order establishing the US Council on Transnational Organized Crime. The council is tasked with monitoring and implementing plans for countering transnational organized crime efforts. This council will replace the Threat Mitigation Working Group, which was directed to lead efforts under Executive Order 13773. Former President Donald Trump signed that executive order in 2017, directing the federal government to invest resources to dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
In a letter to the House Speaker and Senate President, Biden wrote:
I find that international drug trafficking — including the illicit production, global sale, and widespread distribution of illegal drugs; the rise of extremely potent drugs such as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids; as well as the growing role of Internet-based drug sales — constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. This serious threat requires our country to modernize and update our response to drug trafficking. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
Biden’s executive orders add to the federal government’s crackdown on international drug trafficking in recent years. In December 2019, Former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested for accepting multimillion-dollar bribes to permit “El Chapo’s” Sinaloa Cartel to operate. In February 2021, Emma Coronel Aispuro, wife of “El Chapo,” was arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation to the US. In March, the US Southern District Court of New York convicted a Honduran national of drug trafficking.