Governor Bill Lee Joins USA-IT Coalition and Tennessee Chamber to Discuss Fighting Rising Tide of Illegal Trade


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FRANKLIN, June 21, 2022 – Today, United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT)—a coalition of more than 75 national and state brand enforcement experts, law enforcement agencies, academics, and leading business organizations—joined the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry in hosting a summit examining the recent surge of illegal trade in Tennessee; including counterfeiting, smuggling, organized retail theft, and drug and human trafficking.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) spoke at the summit, highlighting Tennessee’s efforts to prevent illegal activity and keep communities across the state safe.

“We’ve made strong investments in proven crime prevention to protect every community and ensure no criminals profit at the expense of Tennesseans,” said Lee. “I commend law enforcement and local leaders for their continued partnership to curb illegal trade and keep Tennessee safe.”

Tennessee is a key transportation hub for the American South, attracting criminals who wish to profit from smuggling contraband within and beyond its borders. The increase in accessibility and volume of illicit substances wreaks havoc on Tennessee communities, with 80 percent of crimes in the state having an underlying drug-related cause. The proliferation of methamphetamine and fentanyl is unprecedented in Tennessee, and many of the criminals that move these and related drugs, such as fake prescription medications that are pure fentanyl and other deadly synthetic chemicals, traffic other contraband like counterfeit goods, weapons, and even people.

Launched in 2021, USA-IT is working across 15 states including Tennessee to empower local officials, law enforcement, and other leaders with new information and training programs and raise public awareness of the depth and severity of illegal trade in our communities.

Those in attendance also heard from Tennessee Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long, who spoke on links between illegal trade-related cases in the state and transnational crime. “When crimes such as counterfeiting and smuggling are reported, it can open the door to larger, more sinister cases involving some of the most dangerous criminal networks in the world,” Long said. “Money is what drives these organizations, and when there are avenues leading to profit, these groups will engage.”

The summit also included a panel consisting of prominent industry leaders and representatives of Tennessee law enforcement. Discussions centered around strategies to reduce the surge of counterfeit drugs, steps taken by law enforcement to dismantle crime syndicates operating in the state, and pathways to enhance information-sharing between the public sector and industry. Panelists and speakers included:

  • Matthew Albence, USA-IT Spokesman and former Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (Panelist Moderator)
  • Adolpho Birch III, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs & Chief Legal Officer for the Tennessee Titans
  •  Bradley Jackson, President & CEO of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce &  Industry
  • David Rausch, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Kristin Reif, Director of Illicit Trade Prevention for Philip Morris International
  • Larry Combs, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Jack Daniel & Global Supply Chain Lieutenant Wayne Dunkleman, Interdiction Plus Unit of the Tennessee Highway Patrol

David Rausch noted during the panel that, “Criminals seize opportunities and show no concern for the lives they take or families they destroy in the process. The distribution of deadly illicit drugs and counterfeit medicines continues to climb around the country, but its impactful coalitions like USA-IT that can help push that trend downwards.” Lieutenant Wayne Dunkleman further cautioned that, “The methods used to traffic illicit narcotics and counterfeit drugs in our state are constantly changing. Those profiting from these criminal markets facilitate other tentacles of crime such as human trafficking that impact states well beyond our borders. “

Accentuating industry’s role in fostering alliances against black-market criminals, Larry Combs statedthat, “Every industry is subject to counterfeiting, which is why we have a responsibility to create information- sharing channels with other companies and sectors. Brown-Forman remains committed to offering our perspective to this growing conversation, and are encouraged by the resolve our friends in the public and private sectors have shown in fighting back.” Adolpho Birch III agreed, adding, “Just as referees work together to uphold the rules and regulations that keep players safe on the field, we must work together to uphold rules and regulations that keep consumers safe. It takes a team, and cohesiveness between all the players is key in succeeding.”

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