Rep. Paul Cook and other legislators call for Kingpin Act review

By on January 7, 2018
Rep. Paul Cook

Rep. Paul Cook (R-8th District-Apple Valley), along with Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ranking Member Albio Sires (D-8th District-NJ), have written a bipartisan letter to the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Gene Dodaro about the opioid epidemic facing the U.S. In it they request the GAO to conduct an impact assessment of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which targets individuals and organizations involved in drug trafficking.

Within the letter they provide an overview of Kingpin – “The Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin) became law in 1999, and it has been used to target individuals and organizations involved in drug trafficking. A Kingpin sanction leads to the blocking of a designated individual’s or entity’s property and assets, prohibition on U.S. transactions, the denial of U.S. visas, and other criminal and civil penalties. In addition, Executive Order 13581 and Executive Order 13773 address transnational organized crime and criminal networks. Since its inception, Kingpin has led to hundreds of individuals and entities being sanctioned.”

However, no comprehensive impact study on its effectiveness of Kingpin – sans a one-time Judicial Review Commission on Foreign Assets Control report published in 2001 – has been conducted; the letter calls for the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct an impact study to review the effectiveness of Kingpin.

Since its inception, Kingpin has led to hundreds of individuals and entities being sanctioned. As of October 2017, there were 915 individuals, 831 entities, and one aircraft listed under the Kingpin Act (SDNTK sanctions program). Of that total, 110 were designated as “Tier 1,” representing the most significant threat and concern, and of those, 65 individuals and 16 organizations were connected to countries in the Western Hemisphere.

In the request for the comprehensive impact study Rep. Cook and the other legislators cite the fact that, “Illicit drugs have caused many American deaths and contributed to horrible violence for our communities. Six of the top ten countries with the highest murder rates in the world this year are in the Western Hemisphere.”

Rep. Cook is member of the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, and Foreign Affairs Committees. He served as an infantry officer and retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps after 26 years. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

Rep. Cook is Yucaipa’s Congressional representative. In addition to his district office in Apple Valley he maintains a field office in Yucaipa at 34282 Yucaipa Boulevard. The Yucaipa office phone number is 909-797-4900; please call prior to visiting the office in order to confirm hours of availability.