USA-IT Calls on Congress to Tackle Illegal Trade


USA-IT Calls on Congress to Tackle Illegal Trade

By USAit

USA-IT Calls on Congress to Tackle Illegal Trade

Coalition of public and private sector security experts join with Members of Congress to call for help in combating rising tide of black-market trade

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT)—a coalition of more than 85 national and state brand enforcement experts, law enforcement agencies, academics, and leading business organizations—hosted its second annual National Summit in Washington, D.C. At the summit, leading advocates called on Congress to embrace new policies urgently needed to combat the growing threats posed by illegal trade, including counterfeiting, smuggling, organized retail theft, and drug and human trafficking.

Representative Bennie Thompson (D, MS-02) opened the summit delivering keynote remarks. “Illicit trade not only damages our businesses and economy but can also pose health and safety risks for consumers and even undermines our security. When the government and private sector work together, hand in hand, we’re more efficient and effective at combating this threat. This is about protecting all of America.”

Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R, LA)stated in his keynote remarks, “When advocates and experts bring their expertise to their congresswoman, congressman, or senator, we can make real change happen. Since speaking to this conference last year, we have made progress on countering trade-based money laundering because of experts like you pushing solutions forward.”

Additionally, coalition members held five panel discussions featuring subject matter experts from large and small companies, law enforcement, academia, and policy experts to examine the impacts of illegal trade and counterfeits. These discussion topics included:

  • Overcoming challenges for protecting American innovation and competitiveness.
  • Confronting the growth of organized retail crime.
  • The connections between human trafficking and other forms of illegal trade.
  • What more can be done to ensure gender diversity in positions of national security decision-making.

Launched in June 2021, USA-IT is working across 15 states facing critical illegal trade issues to empower local officials, law enforcement, and other leaders with new information and training programs and raising public awareness of the depth and severity of these crimes. To date, USA-IT has trained more than 33,000 law enforcement officials, hosted and attended more than 60 events, and delivered 190 briefings.

“Criminals will seize upon the opportunity to exploit any vulnerabilities in our trade and financial systems for their personal gain, with no regard for public safety. Law enforcement is doing everything they can to combat the threat that illegal trade poses to our national security, economy and public safety,” said USA-IT spokesperson and former acting executive associate director for Homeland Security Investigations, Alysa Erichs. “However, no agency can do it alone. Cooperation between the public and private sector is absolutely essential in order to successfully tackle the many aspects of illegal trade. That is why I’m so excited to be part of USA-IT. Together we can share information, expand expertise, identify trends and vulnerabilities as well as innovative solutions to prevent these criminals from getting rich and damaging the American economy.”

“Fighting these organizations for more than a decade, I’ve seen firsthand how the seemingly innocuous trafficking of illicit tobacco and nicotine products, like cigarettes and e-vapor products, has very serious consequences,” said Kristin Reif, director of government relations for Philip Morris International. “But criminals don’t just traffic in one commodity, they will traffic in anything that earns them a dollar, whether that’s luxury purses or drugs or even human beings. That’s why USA-IT is so crucial—by bringing together such a diverse group of stakeholders, we can bring this pervasive problem into lawmakers’ focus and can more effectively counter the threat of illegal trade.”

The black market is a $2.2 trillion-per-year business, and is growing. In the U.S., counterfeit goods alone rob the economy of $131 billion and 325,500 jobs, but its impacts reach much further into our society’s roots and put America’s security and prosperity in jeopardy. Revenues meant to provide essential services to Americans are robbed from taxpayers to fuel some of the world’s most dangerous criminal enterprises. Illegal trade produces counterfeit and potentially harmful consumer goods, floods our streets with deadly drugs, and encourages violence—all of which create instability in our communities, generating even more of these nefarious activities. It’s a vicious circle.

Public actors, the private sector, and civil society alike all have a role to play. Only through cooperative efforts like USA-IT can we effectively ensure a safer, more secure, and more prosperous future.

For more information about USA-IT’s efforts to combat illegal trade and to get involved, visit or email us at

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About USA-IT

United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) is a public- and private-sector partnership designed to help protect American security and prosperity from black-market criminals.



Sam Dashiell

U.S. Communications, Philip Morris International
T. +1 (202) 480 1617