August 16, 2023

Manchin, Rounds Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Authorize Cyber Operations Against Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations

Legislation would strengthen security at the southern border, prevent illegal drugs from crossing into the country

Charleston, WV – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee, and Mike Rounds (R-SD), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Cybersecurity Subcommittee, introduced the bipartisan Countering Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Cyberspace Act of 2023. The legislation provides the Department of Defense (DoD) 60 days to develop a congressionally authorized strategy to conduct Cyber operations that combat Cross border drug smuggling, human trafficking and weapons trafficking carried out by Mexican TCOs and drug cartels.

“This Administration has failed to secure our southern border against the influx of these deadly substances, including fentanyl, and in the last year, more than 109,000 Americans and 1,400 West Virginians died from drug-related overdoses,” said Senator Manchin. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to authorize the Department of Defense to develop and deploy cutting-edge cyber capabilities to prevent illegal drugs from crossing into our country. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense effort to strengthen our border security and combat the drug epidemic that continues to devastate our communities.”

“There is a humanitarian and national security crisis at our southern border,” said Senator Rounds. “Those wishing to do us harm have taken advantage of the Biden administration’s weak policies. As a result, our country has experienced unprecedented levels of smuggling of illegal drugs, human trafficking and weapons trafficking. This legislation would take meaningful steps to do what President Biden is not: strengthening our southern border and protecting our people.”

In May, Senators Manchin and Rounds sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the Department of State to hold the People’s Republic of China (PRC) accountable for its role in the illegal trafficking of synthetic opioid drugs. China is the primary source of the precursor chemicals, which are then processed and manufactured into synthetic opioids by Mexican drug cartels and brought into the United States.

The full text of the bill is available here.

A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to address the drug epidemic can be found here.