Chairman Green Urges DHS to Work With FDA to Prevent Mexican Cartels From Profiting off of Illicit Tobacco Smuggling
August 4, 2023
“We can’t afford to give the cartels even more opportunity to expand their criminal enterprise and further devastate our communities”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green, MD (R-TN) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging the agency to work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt three proposed rules that would prohibit certain tobacco products, as these rules could then empower cartels to increase their profits by smuggling illicit tobacco products across the porous Southwest border.
In the letter, Chairman Green states,“Given this recent development and considering our battle against illegal fentanyl, we are concerned about the potential for the Mexican cartels to begin trafficking tobacco products in the United States should the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalize three proposed rules that would prohibit certain tobacco products. Specifically, the proposals to prohibit menthol in cigarettes and flavors in cigars and to effectively ban cigarettes by mandating a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes could create significant illicit markets that would operate outside the control of the FDA. […] If FDA finalizes the prohibitionary tobacco policies mentioned above, CJNG and other Mexican cartels will have significant financial incentive to utilize their existing fentanyl and narcotics networks to push tobacco sales in the United States. In fact, Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona Mark Dannels recently commented on the involvement of the cartels, saying “with financial incentives this powerful, the question isn’t whether an illicit market for flavored tobacco will rise, but just how big it will be.”
Chairman Green concluded, “Our country is already grappling with the consequences of cartel violence, human trafficking, and narcotics and weapons smuggling across the United States. And we have already lost too many American lives to illicit fentanyl pushed by the cartels. We can’t afford to give the cartels even more opportunity to expand their criminal enterprise and further devastate our communities. Given this recent evidence, we strongly urge you to work with FDA to halt these prohibitionary policies before they create even further chaos and bloodshed at the hands of the cartels. This prohibition will only create unintended consequences at a time when the consequences of cartel activity on American soil are already too great.”
Read the full letter here.