Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Rob Nicholson and Canada's Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews met today to enhance continued engagement between the two countries during the 11th United States-Canada Cross-Border Crime Forum (CBCF) Ministerial.
The annual CBCF focuses on enhancing cooperation on key cross-border crime and security issues, with a particular focus on cross-border investigations and the resulting prosecutions. The CBCF brings together senior public safety and law enforcement officials, and prosecutors to address a number of cross-border issues, including terrorism, mass-marketing fraud, interoperability, organized crime and others.
To better combat ever-evolving threats and transnational crime, the United States and Canadian officials highlighted the critical role of the CBCF in addressing the broadening scope of cross-border and homeland security concerns faced by both nations, and discussed streamlining information sharing and enforcement efforts, as well as enhancing the ability of both countries to identify and respond to a wide range of threats.
"The threats we face today are unprecedented, but they are not isolated. There's no question that our countries' security interests are intertwined," said Attorney General Holder. "By coming together, we are signaling our ongoing commitment to strengthen our important relationship and build on the progress that's been made in recent years."
"DHS remains committed to strengthening collaboration with our Canadian counterparts to combat terrorism and evolving threats in both nations," said Secretary Napolitano. "I look forward to continuing this historic partnership as we enhance our efforts to protect our citizens from terrorism and transnational crime while facilitating legitimate trade and travel along our shared border."
During the forum, officials underscored the importance of a shared vision for border security and highlighted progress made by the United States and Canada over the past year to safeguard the critical resources, infrastructure and citizens of both nations. They also discussed the report, Identity-Related Crime: A Threat Assessment, as well as joint cross-border operations, such as Shiprider, which stations joint law enforcement teams along the international maritime border.
"Close international co-operation plays an important role in protecting our two countries from the dangers of cross-border crime," said Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General Nicholson. "This meeting fostered that co-operation, and I am confident that we will continue to work together to ensure the safety and security of both the United States and Canada."
"This Forum is another demonstration of our Government's commitment to working with our longtime friend and ally to combat crime at our shared border. Our discussion focused on how we can build upon existing cooperation that addresses our mutual concerns, in a way that promotes competitiveness and economic prosperity. We face the same threats, and share the same concerns," said Canadian Minister of Public Safety Toews. "Joint partnerships, such as Shiprider, strengthen our joint ability to maximize law enforcement resources and make our communities safer. Meanwhile, initiatives such as the NEXUS program encourage free flows of legitimate trade and travel."
In addition to the meeting, Stephen Rigby, Canada Border Services Agency President; David Aguilar, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner; and John Morton, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, participated in the official signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Sharing of Currency Seizure Information--announced by Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews in July 2010. The MOU will help identify potential threats and assist in money-laundering and terrorist-financing investigations by creating a notification protocol for both countries when Canadian and United States border officers intercept more than $10,000.
The next United States-Canada Cross Border Crime Forum will be held in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2011.