Congressman Hurd authors bill aimed at combatting cartels, human smugglers


U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, speaks with members of the press during his election night victory party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in San Antonio. Hurd authored a bill aimed at combatting cartels and human smugglers. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

EL PASO — Texas Congressman Will Hurd has introduced a bill aimed at combatting cartels and human smugglers on the Southern border.

The Republican represents Texas’ 23rd congressional district, which stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia joined Hurd an adding the bipartisan bill as an amendment to the Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act (S.B. 245). The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr, (R-North Carolina), would authorize appropriations for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government; the Community Management Account; and the Central Intelligence Agency’s Retirement and Disability System.

Both Hurd and Spanbeger are former CIA officers. Their amendment ensures the intelligence community prioritizes combatting and dismantling the networks of drug cartels, human smugglers and traffickers.

“I represent more of the Southern border than any other member of Congress. The root causes of the current crisis are violence, extreme poverty and lack of economic opportunity in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” Hurd said in a prepared statement. “Drug cartels, human traffickers and human smugglers are making this crisis worse and putting innocent lives at risk. They profit while people in Central America suffer and entire nations are destabilized.

Hurd said the intelligence community is not maximizing the use of intelligence to deny and disrupt their operations. Of the 104,000 people were detained at the border in June, almost every one of them had the phone number of a smuggler, a license plate of a bus that brought them here or a pickup location in their home country, he said.

Hurd and Spanbergers’s amendment would require the Director of National Intelligence to conduct a review of intelligence collection priorities in the Northern Triangle and Mexico and then provide quarterly briefings to Congress regarding intelligence community activities in the region.

“These individuals and organizations threaten the security of the United States and the Western Hemisphere, and we should be using intelligence to stop them,” Hurd said. “I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.”

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