Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02) and Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32) introduced the bipartisan bill, Preserving Criminal Assets for Forfeiture Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

This bill will make it easier to freeze the assets held in the United States by foreign criminals.The legislation will cut down on the funds available for international criminals to further their enterprises. It will also encourage foreign countries to assist the United States in recovering the overseas assets of U.S. criminals.

Currently, US law only allows us to seize a drug cartel members assets in the United States after a final judgment has been issued in a Mexican criminal court. With a conviction rate of less than 5% in Mexico, this means that we are unable to seize a majority of cartel assets in the United States before the money has disappeared. The legislation would allow a US court to issue a restraining order to freeze these assets after ruling that there is evidence of criminal activity. Not only will this increase our ability to hit these cartels financially, but also use those resources to fund additional investigations and prosecutions, said Rep. Poe.

The United States must do more to fight the dangerous drug cartels that thrive along our southern border. I know all too well how these drug cartels can hurt Americans, both at home and abroad. That is why I have introduced this legislation that will help law enforcement strike at the heart of these organizations - by seizing their illicit profits, said Rep. Chu.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that hundreds of millions of dollars have been laundered by international criminal organizations because the defendants moved the assets out of the U.S. before the U.S. courts could seize them. This bill will fix this problem by preventing criminals from removing assets from the United States during the pendency of foreign forfeiture proceedings.

Congressman Poe serves on the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Border Security; as Executive Member of the Immigration Reform Caucus; and recognized nationally as a leading advocate for border security. Prior to serving in Congress, Poe was a prosecutor and judge in Houston, Texas for 30 years.

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