Press Releases

Waters Floor Statement in Support of Bipartisan Bill to Counter Drug and Sex Trafficking

Washington DC, January 28, 2019

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, gave the following floor statement on H.R. 502, the FIND Trafficking Act, bipartisan legislation which requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study how online marketplaces and virtual currencies are being used for sex and drug trafficking.

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Speaker, I support H.R. 502, the FIND Trafficking Act, which would advance efforts to counter the illicit uses of virtual currencies and marketplaces in drug trafficking and sex trafficking. The study in the bill, designed to drive action from government and its partners, is needed now more than ever. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, a 10% rise from the previous year. The percentage of those deaths from synthetic drugs like fentanyl and its analogs increased sharply, as well.

It is said that Americans are now more likely to die from opioid overdose than a car wreck, dropping our collective life expectancy. Further, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.8 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally. Online marketplaces and cryptocurrencies facilitate this abuse, not just abroad but in our own communities, where victims are exploited by bad actors forcing men, women and children into horrifying situations from which it’s difficult to escape. The bill would require the GAO to study how online marketplaces and virtual currencies are being used for drug and sex trafficking. It will examine the participants in these trafficking supply chains and how they cash in and out of their digital marketplaces, returning their illicitly gained proceeds to the formal banking system. The study will also tell us about existing Federal and State efforts to impede such activities, so we can identify how to better tackle these crimes.

So, I want to thank Congressman Vargas and Congresswoman Wagner for introducing this bipartisan legislation, and I urge support for this bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.

H.R. 502 was introduced by Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), Members of the House Financial Services Committee. Chairwoman Waters selected the bill for floor consideration and worked with Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, to ensure widespread bipartisan support.

The bill passed by a vote of 412-3.

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