Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) is introducing the Homeland Security Fentanyl Enforcement Act, which expands the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) authority to conduct counter-narcotics operations and fully combat transnational criminal organizations (TCOs).
The bill amends Title 21 of the U.S. Code, which governs drugs and other controlled substances, to provide DHS Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents with independent authority to enforce America's drug laws.
HSI is the primary DHS agency responsible for investigating transnational crime, including gun trafficking, money laundering, transnational gang activity, and human smuggling. However, under current statute, HSI agents are limited by a reliance on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to investigate Title 21 crimes. Under an Interagency Cooperation Agreement signed in 2009, DEA cross-designates HSI agents to exercise limited Title 21 authority. Of the more than 6,800 HSI special agents, only around 1,500 have been granted Title 21 authority by the DEA -- leaving thousands of HSI agents on the sidelines as fentanyl and other deadly drugs pour into our country.
Congressman Higgins' bill was developed in consultation with frontline DHS law enforcement officers. The legislation provides full Title 21 enforcement authority to HSI, enabling every agent to aggressively investigate and combat drug crimes. Including HSI's 3,750 local, state, and Tribal task force officers, this expanded authority would add more than 10,000 law enforcement professionals to fight deadly drugs.
The bill's co-sponsors at the time of introduction include Reps. Brian Babin (R-TX), Mike Carey (R-OH), Mayra Flores (R-TX), Mary Miller (R-IL), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ).
The Fox News exclusive on the bill is here. The bill text is available here.
Congressman Higgins issued the following statement:
"The criminal cartels are sending fentanyl and other deadly drugs across our border at unprecedented rates. HSI is on the frontline in the fight against the cartels, but they lack the independent statutory authority to enforce drug crimes and target narco-trafficking. It's absurd. We should not allow bureaucracy to constrain our efforts to combat the criminal cartels, which is why I'm introducing our bill to grant HSI agents full Title 21 authority. Our legislation would add thousands of highly skilled federal law enforcement officers to fight drug trafficking at no cost to the American taxpayers. This is a common-sense bill that helps secure America and keeps deadly drugs out of our communities."