Schumer, Gillibrand, Owens Announce: Feds Release First-Ever Northern Border Anti-Drug Strategy -- Plan Improves International Coordination to Shut Down Flow of Drugs from Canada to NY

Press Release

By:  Chuck Schumer Kirsten Gillibrand Bill Owens
Date: Jan. 20, 2012
Location: Unknown

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Bill Owens announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has released the first ever National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy. According to ONDCP the, "Strategy outlines new actions that seek to reduce the two-way flow of illicit drugs between the United States and Canada by increasing coordination among Federal, state, local, and tribal enforcement authorities, enhancing intelligence sharing between counterdrug agencies, and strengthening ongoing counterdrug partnerships and initiatives with the Government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)."

"I pushed so hard for this strategy to be finalized because we have to immediately stop the flow of drugs from Canada into New York, and it's going to take an inter-agency and international effort," said Schumer. "I'm pleased that this agreement lays the groundwork for Canadian and American law enforcement to work hand-in-glove to fight the drug trade that's running rampant along the border. Improving communications between the courts, immigration officials, and law enforcement, and increasing accountability -- as this plan will -- should enhance our ability to keep drugs off our streets and out of our schools."

"Vast drug networks along our northern border are exacerbating violence in communities all across the state," Senator Gillibrand said. "I've heard from law enforcement, local officials, community leaders and everyday families about the resources they need along our northern border to fight drug trafficking. This is the right strategy to fight this scourge at its source, and I praise the Office of National Drug Control Policy for taking this action. With their leadership and priorities, I am hopeful we can put the resources we need on the ground to keep New York communities safe and drug-free."

"I am happy to see the strategy released, and I look forward to continuing my work with local leaders and our Canadian partners to maintain a secure and fluid border. Along with the passage of the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act and the release of this plan, we have taken some significant steps to ensure that law abiding citizens can move more freely across the border and contribute to the development of local economies. I would like to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their work on this issue and I look forward to seeing the progress that will come as a result of this report," said Owens.

The strategy includes:

Enhancing coordination of intelligence collection among the U.S. Federal, state, local, tribal and Canadian law enforcement agencies with Northern border counternarcotics responsibilities.
Increasing the amount seized of illicit narcotics and drug proceeds crossing the Northern border by bolstering security at and between ports of entry.

Enhancing air and maritime domain awareness and response capabilities along the Northern Border. Developing resources and providing training opportunities to tribal law enforcement agencies.
Targeting the financial infrastructure of Transnational Criminal Organizations and increasing judicial cooperation with the Government of Canada.

The full strategy and a details summary are attached.

On November 18, 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report entitled Border Security: Additional Actions Needed to Better Ensure a Coordinated Federal Response to Illegal Activity on Federal Lands. This report, requested by Senator John Tester (D-MT), indicated that a wide swath of the northern border needs additional attention to prevent illegal cross border activity. The Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act of 2010 was passed shortly after, in response to these results. The bill aimed to help law enforcement officials along the northern border stem the flow of illegal drugs coming into their communities. The bill required federal law enforcement to develop a comprehensive and coordinated plan to blunt the illegal drug trade in a Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy, which is being released today.

The northern border of the United States is difficult to monitor due to its length and geography and is often exploited by a diverse array of traffickers. Consequently, it is extremely important that the limited resources at the northern border are employed in the most coordinated and efficient manner possible. Increasingly, international traffickers use Indian reservations as a staging ground for narcotic operations throughout the country. Drug trafficking has become an increasing problem in Northern New York as international drug smugglers seek every available route to bring their products into the United States. For example, America's northern border is now the lead gateway for ecstasy to enter the U.S. Since 2005, seizures of ecstasy coming across the northern border have been eight times greater than seizures in our country's southwest border. The lawmakers said today they were optimistic that the strategy would begin to stem the tide of the international drug trade, and serve as a significant step forward towards keeping drugs out of New York.