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Waltz, Murphy Introduce Bill to Crack Down on Drug and Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, U.S. Representatives Mike Waltz (FL-6-R) and Stephanie Murphy (FL-7-D) introduced the bipartisan Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act to double law enforcement’s area of operation in coastal waters to enable more effective enforcement of U.S. customs laws, interdict drugs, and stop human traffickers. Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

This bill would extend the United States customs waters territory from 12 to 24 nautical miles, providing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) additional latitude to enforce United States law and increase detection and interdiction of illegal cargoes with federal partners off of Florida’s shores. The bill would also codify the U.S. Coast Guards jurisdiction in near shore waters.

Law enforcement have reported a growing drug crisis nationwide due to the influx of drugs in our communities, killing nearly 100,000 Americans in 2020. According to CBP data, twice as much fentanyl was seized by authorities in 2021 than was seized the previous year.

“Communities across our nation are safer thanks to the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard and CBP AMO who tirelessly patrol Florida’s waters for illegal cargo and conduct lifesaving search and rescue operations,” said Rep. Waltz. “As maritime technology improves the performance and speed of vessels, the CBP AMO is at a significant disadvantage with a 12 nautical mile limitation.”

“In Florida and communities across our country, we are safer when we give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to work with Congressman Mike Waltz, in partnership with Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Rick Scott, to enable federal law enforcement agencies to better protect Floridians from drug traffickers and human traffickers.”

Extending law enforcement authorities to the 24 nautical mile limit of the contiguous zone is a critical tool for CBP AMO and its federal partners.

“Illegal smuggling of drugs, cash, guns and human trafficking victims into our country from maritime vessels continues to grow,” said Rep. Waltz. “With limited resources, we must ensure the U.S. Coast Guard and CBP AMO have the proper authority and jurisdiction to effectively protect Florida’s waters.”

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