Senate report warns drug cartels abusing FAA loopholes to expand operations

"I'll be pushing to hold the FAA accountable and advocating for a legislative solution to put a stop to this abuse," he said.

Published: April 8, 2024 6:52pm

Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Co-Chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Monday unveiled a report highlighting loopholes in the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) registration process upon which drug traffickers had seized to expand their operations.

"While Americans rely on the Federal Aviation Administration to provide smooth transport from point A to point B, criminals are taking advantage of the system to transport illicit goods and make a profit," he said in a press release. "The FAA's stubborn habit of rubber stamping registrants leaves the door open for drug traffickers and would-be terrorists to wreak havoc in the U.S. and abroad. FAA’s failure is contributing to the drug crisis, burdening law enforcement and creating a major national security risk."

"I'll be pushing to hold the FAA accountable and advocating for a legislative solution to put a stop to this abuse," he continued.

The report detailed the cartels' use of shell companies and noncitizen trusts to register American planes through the FAA process for use in trafficking illegal narcotics.

It also highlighted a prior report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlining 15 recommendations for the FAA to improve its registration process, noting that it had only adopted three of the fifteen since the report's publication in 2020.

"Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) often use opaque corporate structures to conceal their drug transportation activities. Air transportation is a favored method for the cartels and a burgeoning industry of illicit aircraft brokers has grown up around it," the report stated. "These brokers exploit vulnerabilities and loopholes in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft registry process to place U.S.-registered planes in the hands of TCOs."

"U.S. planes are desirable because they receive less scrutiny from foreign governments and are better at concealing criminal activity," it continued. "The FAA registry is supposed to serve as a source of information for agencies responsible for homeland security, but blind spots in the FAA registration process create serious security risks."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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