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Policy Issues

Combating Drugs and Crime

The United States is deeply affected by crime and violence carried out by transnational criminal organizations, including drug cartels. These actions undermine our border security, inflict harm in our communities, and threaten the stability of our allies around the world. Today, the trafficking of overseas-produced illicit fentanyl, heroin, and other opioids into the United States is fueling a national epidemic with fatal consequences. The CDC reports that U.S. drug overdose deaths surpassed 72,000 in 2017, representing a worrying increase from the already high 2016 number. Trafficking of illicit methamphetamine, produced outside U.S. borders, into our country is also increasing.

The impact of other forms of transnational crime is felt, too, by individuals who are victimized as well as American businesses and financial institutions that suffer when crime disrupts legitimate commercial sectors, depriving workers of a level playing field to compete globally. The transnational criminal organizations that operate today are more fluid, more nimble, and more diverse than ever before. Effectively combating these networks requires a comprehensive, committed, and well-coordinated approach between the Department of State, other federal agencies, and our partners around the world. Our specialized programs to accomplish this address:

  • Wildlife trafficking and other environmental crime
  • Cybercrime and infringement on intellectual property rights
  • Human smuggling and challenges to border security
  • Corruption and money laundering that can facilitate other crimes

Read more about what specific bureaus are doing to support this policy issue:

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL): INL leads the Department of State’s efforts to combat transnational organized crime.  Its work focuses on strengthening the capacity of foreign governments’ law enforcement and criminal justice systems, combating narcotics production and trafficking, and fighting corruption. Read more about INL

U.S. Department of State

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