BUFFALO, N.Y. — Governments at every level will be given six months to come up with a unified strategy to stanch the flow of illegal drugs across the nation’s long and mostly unguarded northern border.
A measure passed Tuesday by the House calls for the Office of National Drug Control Policy to lead the way in coming up with a way to blunt the growing movement of Ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and marijuana across the U.S.-Canadian border. The measure calls for ONDCP to work with the head of each relevant national drug control program agency and state, local, tribal and international governments to develop strategy.
The Senate passed the measure Monday.
Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., said the only way to patch smuggling holes along the porous, 4,000-mile-plus border is to work together.
Any strategy will have to delineate the roles of each national drug control agency, identify the specific resources it will take to implement the plan and focus on trafficking through Indian reservations.
In 2007, agents seized just a single kilogram of heroin and cocaine, compared with 18 kilograms of cocaine and 28 kilograms of heroin in 2009, U.S. Justice Department statistics show. There were 3,423 kilograms of marijuana confiscated last year, compared with 2,792 kilograms two years earlier.
Far more of those drugs come across the southern border, but agents seize eight times the amount of the club drug Ecstasy up north than they do on the southern border. Over the past five years, agents on the northern border have nabbed about 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of Ecstasy each year.
“Law enforcement in communities along the northern border can rest a little easier tonight knowing that the resources they need to stop the flow of drugs should be on the way soon,” Schumer said in a prepared statement.
If President Barack Obama signs the bill, the ONDCP will have 180 days to make recommendations. Funding will be sorted out once a strategy is in place.
“The Obama administration is committed to a comprehensive and balanced approach to drug control that relies on reducing both the demand and supply of drugs in the United States,” White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement Tuesday. “Employing a smart, effective, and coordinated drug control strategy along our Northern border is critical to our efforts to reduc e drug use and its consequences.”
CORRECTION: The Senate passed the measure Monday.