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Sen. Cruz Introduces Bill to Disrupt Illicit Metals Mining and Trafficking

HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last week introduced legislation to disrupt illicit gold mining and trafficking of other precious metals that are commonly used to fund terrorist groups and rogue regimes. This bill would empower the United States to take action against those complicit in mining and moving these resources. Sen. Cruz previously introduced this legislation in early 2019. Last month, Sen. Cruz joined a bipartisan resolution calling attention to the rise in illicit mining and trafficking of gold in Latin America.

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz said:

“The mining and trade of illicit precious metals across the globe continues to pose a national security threat to the U.S. and our allies. The porous border between Venezuela and Colombia facilitates the smuggling of illegal gold with ties to Marxist guerrilla groups like the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Venezuelan mining is also exported and laundered to boost dangerous regimes such as Iran, and moved through countries such as Turkey without transparency or accountability. This bill would help disrupt these activities by empowering the Treasury Department to designate jurisdictions of primary money laundering concern for trade in illicit metals.”

Sen. Tillis said:

“Illegal mining and trafficking of natural resources in many countries, including Venezuela and Iran, are used to fund rogue regimes and other terrorist organizations. This is a direct threat to our national security. We must take action against these organizations in order to further prevent these regimes from benefiting financially from these illegal transactions. I am proud to work with Senators Cruz and Rubio to combat these illicit acts and bring a stop to these regimes.”

Sen. Rubio added:

“I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in supporting this legislative effort, which would empower our nation to hold those countries, institutions, or banks accountable for illegally trading gold from Iran or Venezuela. We must prevent individuals and entities who are illegally enriching themselves from exploiting their nation’s natural resources and trying to sell precious metals abroad.”

Read the full text of their bill here.