This week, Congressman Andrew R. Garbarino (NY-02), a Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, introduced the DHS Transnational Criminal Investigative Units Supplemental Pay Act, which would help address personnel shortages among the Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU) Program within the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Specifically, the bill would give HSI the authority to provide stipends to law enforcement officers for both retention and recruitment incentives. Joining as original cosponsors of the bill are Representatives John Katko (NY-24), Peter Meijer (MI-03), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Dan Meuser (PA-09), Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Jake LaTurner (KS-02), Carlos Gimenez (FL-26), and Michael McCaul (TX-10).
HSI TCIUs are teams of special agents based in 13 countries across North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia that investigate and prosecute individuals involved in transnational criminal activity that pose a continuing threat to the security of the United States. They also help identify targets, such as MS-13 gang members and drug smugglers, collect evidence, share intelligence, and facilitate the prosecution of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) both in-country and throughout the U.S. judicial system.
"My constituents are all too familiar with the damage that transnational criminal organizations can do. Just this week, yet another MS-13 gang member on Long Island plead guilty to murders committed in my district. Border patrol is being overwhelmed by the record-breaking number of migrants attempting to cross our border, which has allowed violent transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 to slip through the cracks and infiltrate our country," Rep. Garbarino said. "DHS has confirmed that hundreds of thousands of known gotaways evaded border patrol last year and those numbers are only increasing. By strengthening the ranks of TCIU we can take on these criminal organizations at the source and head off transnational criminals before they reach our border."
The TCIU in El Salvador works to combat TCOs like MS-13, specifically, and the TCIU in Mexico City seizes significant amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl precursors originating from China annually. This unit investigates, prosecutes, and dismantles the cartels responsible for fueling the opioid and drug overdose death epidemic in the United States. In FY21, the TCIUs effected 2,574 criminal arrests and seized $9,782,474 in currency, 246,100 pounds of cocaine, 6,893 pounds of marijuana, 346 pounds of fentanyl, 58,883 pounds of other drugs and precursors, 561 weapons, 17,418 rounds of ammunition, 9 aircrafts, 70 vehicles and 2 vessels, $22,489,104 in counterfeit goods, $11,398,818 in real estate, and $21,388,900 in general merchandise.
"Our frontline border law enforcement are being crushed under the dangerous impacts of the Biden administration's reckless border security policies which are resulting in an increase in retirements and resignations," said Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member John Katko. "The mission of HSI's Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit is critical to the stability of our homeland security and the fight to slow the amount of drugs pouring across the border, particularly as we see TCOs exploiting the administration's weak border policies for their gain. When we lose these TCIU officers, we lose their irreplaceable knowledge and expertise. I am proud to join Rep. Garbarino in supporting our HSI law enforcement."
"Transnational criminal organizations are major drivers of global organized crime, from trafficking drugs and weapons to fueling illegal immigration at our southern border," said Rep. Meijer. "In order to combat these national security threats, we must continue to pursue a comprehensive and collaborative law enforcement response that leverages our partnerships with foreign law enforcement officers. It is critical that Congress support efforts like the TCIU program by providing the necessary authority and resources to our agencies responsible for protecting the homeland, especially as we continue to experience unprecedented levels of illegal immigration and human smuggling operations at our southern border. I want to thank Congressman Garbarino for his leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue supporting our federal law enforcement officers and enhancing cooperation with our foreign partners."
"United States law enforcement officers across our country, including those abroad, are facing some of the harshest working conditions in years. TCIU officers risk their lives every single day fighting MS-13 and other criminal organizations before they have the chance to cross our wide-open southern border. These officers are crucial to our national security, and we must do what we can to keep them on board," said Rep. LaTurner. "I am proud to support the Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit Supplemental Pay Act to provide TCIU officers with the appropriate incentives to improve recruitment and retention."