Press Releases

Waters, McHenry, Cleaver and Hill to Launch Inaugural Counter-Trafficking Initiative

Washington, DC, March 3, 2020

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy, and Congressman French Hill (R-AR), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy, announced plans to launch the bipartisan Counter-Trafficking Initiative. This long-term Committee effort is designed to explore and expose the breadth and reach of transnational trafficking networks and their illicit finances.

“Trafficking is a national-security threat and often violates human rights and dignity,” said Chairwoman Waters. “The House Financial Services Committee is committed to exposing these bad actors and the people who make it possible for trafficked goods and their illicit proceeds to evade detection. This Committee will be pursuing legislation to better detect and defeat these dark networks.”

“Trafficking—of any kind—has no place in our society,” said Ranking Member McHenry. “We know criminal enterprises and terrorists are taking advantage of the global financial system to deal in these dark markets. From abhorrent human trafficking to the illicit drug trade that fuels the opioid epidemic in our nation, trafficking is putting American lives at risk. We need to better understand the business models, including financing, used by these bad actors in order to stop them. I am proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to tackle the national security and economic threat posed by trafficking.”

“Trafficking is a problem everywhere, including in Missouri and every community across the United States,” said Subcommittee Chairman Cleaver. “Whether it’s human beings, drugs, or illegal weapons, the criminals who commit these horrors are engaged in activities that threaten the men, women and children in our communities. I’m proud to lead this HFSC Trafficking Initiative with my colleague, Rep. French Hill, in the HFSC National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy Subcommittee. Together, we will work with fellow Members to better understand the similarities and differences among trafficking networks so they can be better exploited by law enforcement, NGOs, financial institutions, and others who are combating this threat.”

“For the first time in almost 30 years, there was a decline in the number of American opioid-related overdose deaths,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Hill. “Unfortunately, this was not the case in Arkansas. Overdoses are rising across our state and fentanyl continues to be a growing threat in our communities. Drug smugglers and human traffickers often abuse our financial system. Enacting policies to strengthen national security is one of the best ways to combat all types of trafficking. I look forward to working on the HFSC Counter-Trafficking Initiative to learn more about this growing threat and find solutions to mitigate this illicit activity.”

On March 4, the Committee will launch its Counter-Trafficking Initiative with a National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy (NSIDMP) Subcommittee hearing entitled “The Traffickers’ Roadmap: How Bad Actors Exploit Financial Systems to Facilitate the Illicit Trade in People, Animals, Drugs, and Weapons.”

This hearing will bring in transnational criminal organization (TCO) experts on narcotics, human, wildlife, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) trafficking to examine the similarities in the business models found across the transnational trafficking networks, including the supply chains, facilitators, and finances. Later hearings will use this preliminary analysis of business models to examine the structure and financing of human trafficking and narcotics trafficking networks, the outflows of proceeds through trade-based money laundering (TBML) (including black market peso exchange [bmpe]) and bulk cash, counterfeiting, and data trafficking.

Throughout the year, Committee Members will continue to engage with experts in the public and private sectors to develop proactive legislation that tackles this ongoing threat to America’s economic and national security.

As the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s recently released “2020 National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing” concludes, “While money laundering, terrorism financing, and WMD proliferation financing differ qualitatively and quantitatively, the illicit actors engaging in these activities can exploit the same vulnerabilities and financial channels.” Among those are bad actors engaged in trafficking, whether they trade in drugs, arms, cultural property, wildlife, natural resources, counterfeit goods, organs, or, even, other humans. Their illegal (or “dark”) markets use similar and sometimes related or overlapping methods and means to acquire, move, and profit from their crimes.

In a March 2017 report from Global Financial Integrity, “Transnational Crime and the Developing World,” the global business of transnational crime was valued at $1.6 trillion to $2.2 trillion annually, resulting in crime, violence, terrorism, instability, corruption, and lost tax revenues worldwide.


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