A Strategy to Reduce Drug Trafficking along our Northern Border

Today, I joined Director Kerlikowske in releasing the Obama Administration’s first-ever National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy.  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 among counterdrug agencies, and strengthening our Nation’s ongoing counterdrug partnerships and initiatives with the Government of Canada and Canadian law enforcement agencies.  The Strategy places a special emphasis on improving cooperation with tribal governments, devoting an entire chapter to enhancing law enforcement coordination on tribal lands.  By strengthening integrated cross-border law enforcement between our two countries, the Strategy supports a key area of cooperation outlined by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper in the Beyond the Border declaration.

Ecstasy and marijuana are common drug threats to the United States from Canada, and the United States remains the primary transit country for cocaine from South America entering into Canada. The National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy provides an overview of current counterdrug efforts and identifies supporting actions aimed at disrupting this two-way flow of illegal drugs.  Some key strategic objectives outlined in the Strategy include:

  • Enhancing coordination of intelligence collection among 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 National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy is the product of an extensive consultation process that began with hundreds of letters from ONDCP soliciting input from relevant Congressional delegations, the Government of Canada, and Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials. As part of this process, I traveled to Seattle, Washington; Blackfeet Nation, Montana; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Detroit, Michigan; and upstate New York.  The consultation meetings in these locations included discussions with U.S. Attorneys, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) directors, our Canadian counterparts, and panels of Federal, state, local, and tribal officials. The input we received at these meetings played a significant role in shaping the Strategy, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with law enforcement at all levels here and in Canada to reduce the threat that drug trafficking poses to communities on both sides of the border.

Ben Tucker is Deputy Director for State, Local, and Tribal Affairs

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