Beefed-Up Security Curtails Border Drug Trade

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by IndianaToker, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. By Robert Matas
    Source: Globe and Mail

    Vancouver -- Major drug busts at Canadian borders have plunged by almost 20 per cent this year, a sign that pumped-up security measures have cut into the illicit narcotics trade. "We're making headway, shutting down criminal organizations," RCMP Constable Alex Borden said.

    But authorities warned the drop may be temporary, until international criminal organizations find more creative ways to penetrate the country's ports, airports and border crossings.

    "We find when we shut down one organization, another starts up," Constable Borden said. "There is always someone to pick up the slack because there is money to be made, a product to distribute and a large market demanding the drugs."


    National statistics compiled by the Canadian Border Services Agency show that border officers made 866 significant seizures of drugs as of Nov. 30, with a street value of $252.7-million.

    Previously, the number of seizures of drugs destined for Canada from the United States increased each year since 2000, peaking in 2003 with 1,063. The street value of drugs confiscated at the border last year was estimated at $600-million.

    The agency's statistics include only major busts. Tabulations do not include seizures below one kilogram of marijuana, 10 grams of heroin, 50 grams of cocaine, 500 grams of hashish or 100 tabs of ecstasy.

    Increased border-control efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- through tighter co-operation among police authorities, better training and improved equipment -- have been effective, spokesmen for the RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency said in interviews.

    They are reluctant to jump to conclusions about their success, however. "We only know what we intercept," border services spokesman Chris Kealey said in an interview from Ottawa. "We do not know what we miss. It's a cat-and-mouse game."

    However, they are confident that new tools introduced to counter terrorism make it easier to find illegal drugs. Five years ago, for example, officers had to unpack suspicious suitcases. Now they scan a luggage handle or analyze air quality to decide whether to probe further, Mr. Kealey said.

    The terrorism threat led to international policing agencies working more closely together. Also, passengers are more likely to report suspicious activity to authorities.

    People realize that drug activity helps finance terrorist groups, and their help broadens the scope of law enforcement, Mr. Kealey added.

    As the border patrol improved, the number of drug smugglers dropped.

    Marilyn Murray, a border services spokeswoman in Vancouver, said effective border control acts as a deterrent. People are dissuaded from sending drugs over the border if they believe officers will find the contraband.



    "The borders are the first line of defence in keeping drugs off the streets," she said. Efficient border control acts as a deterrent, even when officers do not intercept any drugs, Ms. Murray said.



    However, the numbers could jump back up next year, as people involved in organized crime dream up new approaches, authorities said.
    "We realize the extent is limited only by the imagination of the criminal mind," said Patrizia Giolti, spokeswoman for border services at Toronto's Pearson airport.

    Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Author: Robert Matas
    Published: Monday, December 27, 2004 - Page A11
    Copyright: 2004 The Globe and Mail Company
    Contact: letters@globeandmail.ca
    Website: http://www.globeandmail.com/
     
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