Feinstein bill aims to combat organized crime, drug trafficking

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S. 706 would establish a penalty for foreign drug traffickers who have reasonable cause to believe that illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States, allowing the Justice Department to go after Colombian drug kingpins who use Mexican gangs as intermediaries to ship cocaine into the U.S.

“Since drug cartels are continually evolving, this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace.” Grassley said. “This legislation closes a loophole abused by drug traffickers who intend for drugs to end up in the United States but supply them through an intermediary.”

In addition, the bill applies penalties to foreign chemical producers that illegally ship chemicals into the U.S. knowing they will be used to make illegal drugs, such as pseudoephedrine, which is used for methamphetamine. 

Feinstein and Grassley’s bill would also make a technical correction to the Counterfeit Drug Penalty Enhancement Act, which increased penalties for the trafficking of counterfeit drugs. The much-needed fix adds a “knowing” requirement so that U.S. pharmacists can be held criminally liable only if they knowingly sell counterfeit drugs. Under the bill that was signed into law by President Obama last year, a pharmacist could be charged with a federal felony for unknowingly selling counterfeit drugs. Feinstein said the “knowing” clause was unintentionally left out of the original bill last year.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are co-sponsoring the bill.