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News (Media Awareness Project) - Canada: US Opens New Canadian Front In War On Drugs
Title:Canada: US Opens New Canadian Front In War On Drugs
Published On:2012-01-20
Source:Toronto Star (CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-24 06:03:49

OTTAWA-The United States launched a new offensive Friday in its war on
drugs, targeting Canadian marijuana and ecstasy traffic flow across
its northern border.

President Barack Obama's drug czar at the Office of National Drug
Control Policy released an 80-page paper outlining the National
Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy, which calls for more and
smarter policing efforts on both sides of the border.

It pegs Canadian-produced high-potency marijuana and ecstasy that is
often cut with impure and potentially deadly chemicals as "the most
significant Canadian drug threats to the United States."

Canada, it says, is the prime source of ecstasy in North America, and
the U.S. is the primary source of South American cocaine into Canada.

Methamphetamine (meth) and heroin "pose much lesser threats to each
country," according to case reports and limited northbound and
southbound seizures, but the paper says greater efforts are needed to
stem the flow of "B.C. bud" and ecstasy southward, and the flow of
cocaine north.

The strategy calls for:

- - Better coordination of intelligence collection among U.S. federal,
state, local, tribal and Canadian law enforcement agencies.

- - More security at and between ports of entry to boost seizures of
illicit narcotics and drug proceeds.

- - More air and maritime "awareness and response capabilities" along the
Canadian border.

- - More resources and training opportunities for tribal law enforcement
agencies to battle the influx of drugs across the aboriginal
territories in upstate New York.

- - More efforts to target gangs' "financial infrastructure" - and their
use of money-service businesses to launder drug money.

- - Increased judicial cooperation with the government of Canada.

The report identifies major ethnic groups behind the transshipment of
drugs, saying most are based in B.C., Quebec and Ontario.

"Ethnic Chinese groups are primarily responsible for the production of
ecstasy in Canada" while "Asian criminal groups, particularly those of
Vietnamese descent, are the primary operators of (marijuana) grows in
western Canada (British Columbia) and the western United States
(California, Washington)."

It says "ethnic Indian and Caucasian growers and criminal groups with
ties to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club" are also major grow
operators or distributors.

"Canadian-based Irish and Italian organized crime and those with ties
to Hells Angels Motorcycle Club" are involved in marijuana production
and smuggling in Ontario, Quebec and the eastern United States
(upstate New York and northern New England).

The report cites the challenges of stemming illegal drug traffic at
the Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation that straddles the Canada-U.S.
border along the St. Lawrence River, and in the Pacific Northwest,
where Mexican drug traffickers are taking advantage of Washington
reservations and tribal members.

The report characterizes the current North America illegal drug market
as driven by big profits, but shifting as Asian gangs move to set up
indoor grow-ops in the U.S. as well.

It says demand in the U.S. for illicit drugs increased slightly in
2010 over 2009, but in Canada, drug use has decreased from 2004 to 2009.

"An estimated 22.6 million Americans (8.9 percent) aged 12 or older
were current users of illicit drugs in 2010. The rate of use was
similar to the rate in 2009 (8.7 percent)," according to the report.

Meanwhile, in Canada, "in 2009, the prevalence of use of at least one
of six drugs (including cannabis, cocaine or crack, speed, ecstasy,
hallucinogens in the past-year was approximately 2.8 million Canadians
(11 per cent) aged 15 or older. This represents a decline from the
rate of use reported in 2004, at 14.5 per cent."

In a statement, Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control
Policy, said overall drug use in the United States "has dropped
substantially" over the past 30 years, "including cocaine use, dropped
by 40 percent, and meth use in America has been cut by half." He said
the Obama administration has committed more than $10 billion for drug
prevention programs and expanding access to drug treatment for addicts.

Despite harsh penalties for drug crime in the U.S. the illicit drug
market is profitable and people take all kinds of chances: last March,
a female U.S. citizen traveled by bus from Canada via Buffalo, New
York and was arrested after she was discovered to have strapped 34,000
Ecstasy tablets to her body "to appear as if she were pregnant."

The report identifies a "nexus" between marijuana and ecstasy
smuggling from Canada, and cocaine transiting the United States into
Canada, saying gangs are trading quantities of marijuana and ecstasy
for cocaine supplies.

"The cocaine sells for approximately $25,000 to $28,000 per kilogram
in the United States, and approximately $38,000 to $43,000 per
kilogram in Canada."

The report says in some cases Canadian drug dealers are exchanging
drugs for weapons in the U.S. and smuggling them back into Canada, but
acknowledges that weapons smuggling into the U.S. from Canada "is
minimal" compared to its southern border Mexico.

Asked about illegal drug-running in and out of aboriginal reserves,
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews had little comment Friday other than
to say the RCMP, OPP and other police forces are engaged in operations
to counter illicit drug traffic along aboriginal territories.

Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews,
told the Star that the Conservative government "firmly believes that
our border should be open to legitimate travel and trade but closed to
criminals and illicit drugs. That's why President Obama and Prime
Minister Harper signed the Border Action Plan."

She said the government has "invested significant funds to strengthen
our border" and will "continue to cooperate" with U.S. authorities.
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