University of Miami Inter-American Law Review


46 U.S.C. § 70503, known as the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), prohibits individuals on board covered vessels from manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with an intent to distribute or manufacture, a controlled substance. The statute, as enacted, permits the prosecution of individuals arrested beyond U.S. jurisdiction and even within the territorial seas of other States. This provision is argued to be an impermissible extraterritorial reach absent a nexus requirement—showing a connection between the drug smuggling activity and the U.S. Recently, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held the statute’s extraterritorial reach and lack of nexus requirement as unconstitutional under the Foreign Commerce Clause and Offenses Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This note explores the background and development of the MDLEA and argues its unconstitutionality.