Ruling threatens US power as world's high-seas drug police

Foreign Drug Runners
Posted at 1:35 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 13:35:33-04

MIAMI (AP) — A little-noticed federal appeals court ruling this year threatens a key weapon in the United States’ war on drugs: A decades-old law that gives the U.S. broad authority to make high-seas drug smuggling arrests anywhere in the world, even if those drugs aren’t bound for the U.S.

The Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act gives the U.S. unique policing powers anywhere on the seas whenever it determines a vessel is “without nationality.”

It’s used to round up and imprison hundreds of foreigners every year, often poor fishermen from Central and South America who make up the drug trade’s lowest rungs.