U.S. Senator Wants Canada Border Drug Strategy

April 29, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

A U.S. Border Patrol agent rides a snowmobile on a frozen lake near the Vermont-Quebec border. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A U.S. Border Patrol agent rides a snowmobile on a frozen lake near the Vermont-Quebec border. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A New York senator is calling for the Obama administration to create an anti-drug smuggling plan for the Canada-U.S. border similar to the one in place for the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sen. Charles Schumer said that since 2007 there have been large increases in seizures of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana entering the U.S. from Canada. Seizures of the club drug ecstasy have also risen, with the Canada/U.S. border now the lead gateway for ecstasy entering America.

Despite these increases, Schumer said the U.S. administration has yet to put together a comprehensive strategy to combat drug-smuggling from Canada, as it has for its southern border with Mexico.

“We need to push back hard against the recent rise in drug smuggling across the Canadian border,” Schumer said in a press release.

“It is concerning that no one has yet developed a comprehensive strategy for fighting drug smuggling across the northern border, and it’s a problem that has to be addressed immediately.”

Schumer said that since 2007, seizures of ecstasy smuggled to the U.S. from Canada have jumped from 240 kg to 303 kg—eight times greater than seizures along the southern border since 2005. An average of almost 400 kg of ecstasy has been seized per year for the last five years.

Heroin seizures rose from less than 1 kg in 2007 to 28 kg in 2009. During the same period, seizures of cocaine jumped from less that I kg to 18 kg, and marijuana seizures from 2,791 kg to 3,423 kg.

Although these are far less than the amounts of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana seized by agents along the Mexican border, Schumer said the growing problem must be addressed.

He plans to introduce legislation mandating that the Office of National Drug Control Policy devise and implement a “comprehensive counter-narcotics strategy” for the 6,437-kilometre border. He also wants to restore funding for a program aimed at curbing drug trafficking and crime that the administration proposed cutting in the 2011 budget.

The legislation will be sponsored in the House by New York Rep. Bill Owens, whose district includes the northern part of New York State. Schumer is working to garner support from colleagues in other northern border states as well.

“Right now New York’s communities are outgunned in the fight against drugs and that just can’t continue,” he said. “I’m hopeful that this effort will get the ball rolling on a new approach and ensure that our counties have the resources they need to combat this problem.”