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Ernst Targets Cartel Spotters, Increases Penalties for Anyone Abetting Illegal Activity on Southern Border

In response to her recent border tour in the Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is targeting cartel “spotters” in her latest piece of legislation. The bill, titled the Transnational Criminal Organization Illicit Spotter Prevention and Elimination Act, increases penalties for those who aid cartels in illegal activity by transmitting information about the positions of Border Patrol or destroying Border Patrol communication devices.

“As our border crisis continues to spiral out of control, the cartels are only getting smarter and more advanced,” said Senator Ernst. “Spotters have become a critical player in how cartels evade law enforcement. By implementing stricter penalties on spotters, it not only deters new individuals from joining cartel efforts, but it prevents more experienced spotters who have been apprehended from quickly returning to action.”

Currently, the cartels employ individuals, or “spotters”, to surveil stretches of the Southern border and report on Border Patrol movements, equipment locations, and other law enforcement activity. These spotters seek to aid the cartels in avoiding law enforcement while trafficking people, drugs, and other illegal contraband. Senator Ernst’s bill would harshen penalties on spotters by increasing fines and imposing a maximum prison time of 10 years on those convicted of helping cartels.

 Ernst is joined by her colleagues Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) in cosponsoring this legislation. To read the bill, click here.

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