Securing the Border: A Strategy to Reduce Drug Trafficking Between the United States and Canada

Today I traveled to the Bakken oil field region to announce the release of the 2014 National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy (Strategy), which updates and expands upon the Obama Administration’s first Strategy released in 2012. Like the inaugural Strategy, this document sets forth the Administration’s plan to reduce the illegal trafficking of drugs across the U.S.-Canada border.

There are inherent challenges in curtailing illicit drug trafficking across the Northern border. Among them are the vastness of the border itself, which extends more than 5 thousand miles, as well as the ever-evolving illegal drug production and trafficking trends that confront law enforcement officers. In fact, my visit earlier today was prompted by one such trend: the emergence of drug trafficking and related crime resulting from the development of the Bakken oil fields of northeastern Montana, northwestern North Dakota, and southern Saskatchewan. In recognition of this emerging threat, the 2014 Strategy includes a section dedicated to drug trafficking in the Bakken region and our efforts to address this threat.

Despite the challenges that we face, we are confident that by building upon our strong history and shared commitment with our Canadian partners, we will succeed in reducing cross-border illegal drug trafficking. Through integrated cross-border law enforcement efforts, the United States and Canada will build upon existing relationships, programs, and policies; will seek further opportunities to pursue national security by disrupting transnational criminal organizations; and will improve information sharing, enabling more efficient and effective use of resources to curb the flow of illicit drugs and drug proceeds across the Northern border.

The Strategy provides an overview of current counternarcotics efforts and identifies strategic objectives and specific actions that support the strategic goal to substantially reduce the flow of illicit drugs and drug proceeds along the Northern border. In updating and expanding upon the Administration’s first Strategy, the 2014 Strategy incorporates some significant changes and additions, such as the inclusion of sections addressing drug trafficking in the Bakken oil field region and the emerging threat posed by synthetic drugs; enhancements to the financial investigations section, including the addition of three new action items focusing on partnering with the private sector, targeting virtual currency and electronic payment devices, and targeting trade-based money laundering schemes; the addition of two new action items focused on eliminating public corruption; and significant enhancements to the section detailing our cooperative efforts with our Canadian counterparts.

Michael Botticelli is the Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy. 

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