Law enforcement officials in South Carolina are on the front lines in the day to day battle against drug smugglers and human traffickers. They work to prevent the spread of this illicit activity and eliminate the sources from which they emanate. It is a mission that is carried out willingly with the belief that the government’s primary responsibility is to keep our citizens safe.
This is why a recent legislative proposal – The ILLICIT CASH Act – currently begin debated in Washington deserves the support of the state’s public safety officers, and equally importantly, U.S. Senator Tim Scott. The ILLICIT CASH Act will provide law enforcement with the tools needed to root out dangerous criminal organizations that wreak havoc in our communities by cutting off the lifeblood that allows them to operate in the first place – money.
As nonsensical as it sounds, the reality is, in the United States today, criminal enterprises like drug cartels are freely allowed to set up anonymous shell companies which are then used for money laundering and the financing of their illegal operations. Consequently, when law enforcement agencies investigate these enterprises, they too often run into dead ends when the trail leads to these anonymous entities with their hidden ownership and origination.
This critical blind spot is directly compromising the safety of South Carolina communities, the integrity of the American financial system, and our country’s national security. You simply cannot effectively, disrupt, dismantle, and destroy drug cartel activity without eliminating the funds that support these serious crimes.
The ILLICIT CASH Act will help identify and stop criminal activity, while at the same time protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans. The new company ownership requirements would be simple – asking no more information than you would have to provide when renting a car – name, address, date of birth, and driver’s license number. That information would then only be available to authorized officials and in the course of an actual law enforcement investigation.
The time for this commonsense reform is well past due. The U.S. is now widely considered one of the world’s worst offenders in stopping financial crimes. How can we continue to battle drug cells in South Carolina if Washington won’t prevent the U.S. from being the preferred shelter for their money laundering?
I strongly encourage Sen. Scott to support this simple, yet vitally important change in our law. There’s no political equation worth calculating when the wellbeing of our neighbors and loved ones are at risk and we have the means to stop the threats. The ILLICIT CASH Act is the straightforward way to close the loophole that protects criminal activity and prevents law enforcement agencies from carrying out their missions to keep the public safe.