Today, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released the 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy, a key component of the Obama Administration’s unprecedented work to strengthen security along the Southwest border.
Since the implementation of the inaugural 2009 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy, significant progress has been made to secure our border with Mexico while reducing the demand for drugs in the United States.
The Strategy released today shows that the Southwest border is better patrolled now than at any other time in history. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased on-the-ground personnel from 9,000 Border Patrol agents in 2001 to 21,000 agents today. A focus on interdiction efforts, improved cooperation with the Mexican government, and legislation such as the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012 have resulted in significant currency, drug, and weapons seizures.
During 2010-2012, DHS seized 71 percent more currency, 39 percent more drugs, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to fiscal years (FY) 2006-2008. These are just some of the metrics reported in the 2013 Strategy. Equally important, the Strategy defines new goals to build upon these successes and focuses on border-specific challenges to reducing both drug demand and supply. The timing of the Strategy’s release could not be more appropriate, coming only days after a vote in the U.S. Senate to reform our Nation’s immigration system. Sixty-eight Senators – Democrats and Republicans – voted for a bill that provides undocumented immigrants with a way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. If enacted, the Senate bill would also establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history.
The 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy complements the President’s plan for drug policy reform, which is rooted in evidence-based programs that treat substance use as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice problem. We have seen encouraging trends in drug use in this country over the past three decades. Since 1979, the rate of overall drug use has declined by roughly 30 percent. More recently, the number of current cocaine users has dropped by 44 percent since 2007, and the number of meth users has been cut by 40 percent. To build on this progress and support public health approaches to drug control, the Obama Administration has requested more than $10 billion in FY 2014 for drug education programs and expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders. This includes a requested increase of $1.4 billion to expand treatment and prevention, the largest percentage increase in at least two decades.
The full text of the 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy is available here.