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S. 3598 (110th): Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008

The Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008, Pub.L. 110–407, 122 Stat. 4296, enacted October 23, 2008, was an act of the United States Congress outlawing operation of or travel in unregistered submersibles and semi-submersibles in international waters with the intent to evade detection.

The bill is notable for its grant of extraterritorial jurisdiction and for criminally mandating possession of documents described in the 1958 Convention on the High Seas, a convention which Congress has refused to ratify.

This summary is from Wikipedia.

Last updated Oct 11, 2018. Source: Wikipedia

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Oct 13, 2008.

(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the Senate passed version is repeated here.)

Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008 - Title I: Criminal Prohibition - Amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term of up to 15 years for knowingly operating, attempting or conspiring to operate, or embarking in any submersible or semi-submersible vessel that is without nationality in, through, or from waters beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea of a single country or a lateral limit of that country's territorial sea with an adjacent country, with the intent to avoid detection. Grants extraterritorial federal jurisdiction over an offense under this Act.

Specifies that a claim of nationality or registry under this Act includes only: (1) possession on board the vessel and production of documents evidencing the vessel's nationality as provided in the 1958 Convention on the High Seas; (2) flying its nation's ensign or flag; or (3) a verbal claim of nationality or registry by the person in charge of the vessel.

Makes it an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this Act that a vessel operated at the time of a violation was: (1) a vessel of the Untied States or lawfully registered in a foreign nation; (2) classed by and designated in accordance with the rules of a classification society; (3) lawfully operated in a government regulated or licensed activity; or (4) equipped with and using an operable automatic identification system, vessel monitoring system, or a long range identification and tracking system. Specifies the documents required to conclusively prove an affirmative defense.

Directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to promulgate or amend sentencing guidelines to provide adequate penalties for violating the criminal prohibition imposed by this Act.

Title II: Civil Prohibition - Imposes a civil penalty of up to $1 million for a violation of this Act. Allows the same defenses to a civil enforcement proceeding as for a criminal prosecution under this Act.

Defines a "semi-submersible vessel" as any manned or unmanned watercraft constructed or adapted to operate with most of its hull and bulk under the surface of the water. Defines a "submersible vessel" as a manned or unmanned vessel capable of operating completely below the surface of the water.