June 28, 2018

Cortez Masto, Toomey Introduce FIND Trafficking Act

Bipartisan Legislation to Require Study on Use of Virtual Currencies and Online Marketplaces in Facilitation of Sex & Drug Trafficking

Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) introduced the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act of 2018 along with her Republican co-lead, Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), in the United States Senate. The FIND Trafficking Act would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking and make recommendations for congressional and federal action on how to fight the abuse of virtual currency to facilitate crime. On June 25th the companion legislation introduced by Representatives Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) and Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Since my time as Nevada’s Attorney General I’ve made it my mission to stop trafficking of innocent women, children, and illicit drugs,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “One of the key ways I was able to lead that fight was by collecting the data that helped stop these criminal enterprises. Right now, these enterprises are using virtual currencies and the dark web to avoid being brought to justice. This study will give us answers and provide Congress with additional tools to disrupt this illicit economy. We need to make sure Congress and law enforcement understand how to fight crime in the 21st century.”

“Virtual currencies have great potential for commerce, but they are becoming increasingly popular with sex traffickers,” said Senator Toomey.  “Our bipartisan legislation will give Congress important information about how best to stop criminal deviants who use digital money to avoid detection when exploiting society’s most vulnerable members.”

The text of the bill can be found HERE.

BACKGROUND:

Virtual currencies have been exploited to pay for goods and services associated with illegal sex and drug trafficking, which are two of the most detrimental and troubling illegal activities facilitated by online marketplaces. Online marketplaces, including the darkweb, have become a major platform to buy, sell, and advertise for illicit goods and services associated with sex and drug trafficking.

This legislation would fully study and analyze how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex and drug trafficking to determine how to best impede the use of virtual currencies and online marketplaces for that purpose.

  • According to the Drug Enforcement Administrations’ 2017 National Drug Assessment, transnational criminal organizations are increasingly using virtual currencies for illicit activities, including drug trafficking.
  • According to the International Labour Organization, in 2016, 4.8 million people in the world were victims of forced sexual exploitation, and in 2014, the global profit from commercial sexual exploitation was $99 billion.
  • In 2016, within the United States, the CDC estimated that there were 64,000 deaths related to drug overdose, and the most severe increase in drug overdoses were those associated with fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.
  • According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury 2015 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment, an estimated $64 billion is generated annually from U.S. drug trafficking sales.

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