US debating drug bill that could end up targeting Colombia’s coca farmers

Colombia Reports

(Image credit: El Universal)

The United States Congress is debating a bill that seeks to target all chains in the global drug trade and could lead to Colombian coca farmers being charged in the US.

The Transnational Drug Trafficking act, which passed the Senate unanimously in the 112th and 113th Congresses, would provide the Department of Justice with new tools to prosecute international drug traffickers in foreign countries.

If approved by the House of Representatives, people on the lowest rung of the cocaine production ladder, i.e. Colombia’s coca farmers, will be more likely to end up in trouble with US justice for their involvement in the drug trade.

This is a consequence that Colombia’s government and society have not been seeking to impose.

“Since drug cartels are continually evolving, this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace,” said Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and one of the two creators of the bill.

“To reduce the flow of drugs into the United States, the federal government needs the legal authority to aggressively pursue transnational criminal organizations and drug kingpins in their home countries. This bill gives law enforcement the authority they need to go after these criminals,” said Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and other creator of the bill.

Thus far Colombia’s government, NGOs and various sectors of society have been seeking to deal with the weakest links in the drug trafficking trade in a completely different way. The general consensus and intention has been to decriminalize those who were most likely forced in to growing coca, which makes up about 60,000 peasant families across the country.

The details of the Act say that it “imposes penalties on individuals who manufacture or distribute precursor chemicals, including pseudoephedrine, knowing that the chemicals will be used to make drugs or other controlled substances destined for the United States.”

“The bill closes a loophole abused by drug traffickers who intend for drugs to end up in the United States but supply them through an intermediary. The Justice Department needs every legal tool to help crack down on those who ship these substances over the border into our country,” said Grassley.

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