Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally Introduces Bill To Intercept Cartel “Spotters”

March 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today introduced legislation that would enhance penalties for “spotters” who transmit information about the position and surveillance efforts of the U.S. Border Patrol or destroy border controls.


“Spotters are fundamental to the operation of drug cartels, but there is currently no law that specifically prohibits or penalizes them for assisting drug cartels along the border. During multiple trips to the border, I’ve seen firsthand where these scouts operate and heard frustrations from ranchers and Border Patrol about the lack of consequences they face,” said Rep. McSally (R-AZ). “By implementing penalties, this bill will prevent experienced spotters who are caught from quickly returning to action and deter many others from joining a criminal cartel operation. We have to improve our border strategy in order to make our communities safer, and that’s exactly what this legislation will do.”

The Transnational Criminal Organization Illicit Spotter Prevention and Elimination Act would increase penalties for transmitting information about the position or surveillance efforts of Border Patrol or destroying United States border controls by increasing fines and imposing a maximum prison time of 10 years. Arizona Senator John McCain today introduced identical companion legislation in the Senate.

“Across our southern border, so-called ‘spotters’ sit on mountains to direct drug cartels and human traffickers as they attempt to skirt our laws and illegally cross over the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Senator McCain (R-AZ). “Our legislation would help to dismantle a central part of these cartels’ communications and logistics networks by enhancing penalties for spotters. I thank Congresswoman McSally for her leadership on this issue in the House, and I am pleased to be working together to secure the border and protect Arizona communities.”

“This bill will strengthen consequences for those who jeopardize our residents’ safety so that law enforcement is more equipped to stifle drug cartel operations,” said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. “I’m glad to see efforts being made by our Members of Congress to take spotters out of action for good and improve security along our border.”

“Consequences for illegal activity are a critical element of the U.S. Border Patrol enforcement model,” stated Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief Felix Chavez. “We expend great efforts to prevent, identify and arrest those that assist smuggling organizations in moving their illicit cargo.  Any legislative action that will add to consequences will certainly help secure our nation.”

The bill follows Rep. McSally’s continued efforts as Chairwoman of House Homeland Security Committee’s Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee to conduct oversight on and bolster security of the U.S. southern border, which include authoring the following key pieces of legislation:


The full bill text can be found HERE.