Pubdate: Thu, 19 Feb 2009
Source: Watertown Daily Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 Watertown Daily Times
Author: Brian Kelly, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Border Trafficking: Sen. Schumer Says Intelligence To Be Shared With Local

Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Wednesday that two federal drug
intelligence officers will be stationed at the state's northern border
with Canada.

The Democratic senator also said he and Rep. John M. McHugh,
R-Pierrepont Manor, are working "hand-in-glove" to have four northern
counties added to a federal program that provides resources to disrupt
drug trafficking.

"We have to fight for the northern border," Mr. Schumer said. "In
recent years, we've made some progress, we've had some triumphs in
curbing the problem, but not enough."

Mr.. Schumer made the announcement of the new intelligence officers at
the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building surrounded by local law
enforcement and elected officials. The officers will be stationed in
Franklin and Clinton counties, which share land border crossings with

While federal drug trafficking interdiction efforts frequently
concentrate on the United States's southern border, traffickers have
turned their attention to the northern border, particularly for the
marijuana trade, he said.

Despite some recent successes in combating trafficking in the north
country, Mr. Schumer said, "We need more help." The two new
intelligence officers will join a network of officers spread across
the state to collect, analyze and share information with their
counterparts, including local law enforcement.

"The best way to do this is to have people on the ground," he

The officers are part of a federal New York/New Jersey High Intensity
Drug Trafficking Area program that provides resources to increase
communication among law enforcement agencies. Mr. Schumer said he and
Mr. McHugh are working to have the program extended to Jefferson, St.
Lawrence, Franklin and Clinton counties.

"The HIDTA program is premised upon intelligence sharing and
cooperation among federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement
agencies, and adding these two drug intelligence officers will greatly
enhance our ongoing efforts to combat drug trafficking," Mr. McHugh
said in a statement.

The program focuses on drug trafficking regions that have harmful
effects on other areas of the country. Since 1990, 28 regions in the
country, representing 14 percent of all counties, have been designated
as high-intensity trafficking areas and are eligible to receive
federal funding through the program.

The New York/New Jersey HIDTA, which has its main office in Manhattan,
includes 17 counties throughout the state and northeastern New Jersey.
Four upstate counties, Albany, Erie, Monroe and Onondaga, were added
in 2007.

Mr. Schumer said he and Mr. McHugh plan to discuss the north country's
inclusion in the program with Gil Kerlikowske, President Barack
Obama's recently nominated national drug czar, during the confirmation
process for Mr. Kerlikowske's appointment as head of the Office of
National Drug Control Policy. The senator said he knows Mr.
Kerlikowske well from the nominee's days as Buffalo police chief, and
Mr. Kerlikowske "knows first-hand how important the northern border

Mr. Schumer said a new administration also may provide an opportunity
to renew efforts for a joint U.S./Canadian Customs and Immigration
station at the Wellesley Island port of entry. The countries had
negotiations over shared border management, but talks faltered in 2007
after Canada had what Mr. Schumer termed "cold feet" regarding the
arrangement, particularly about how to run such a station on Canadian
soil near Buffalo.

Mr. Schumer said with an administration that includes "my partner,"
Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, discussions on a shared
border station could resume with the Canadian government.

"We're hopeful we can revitalize that issue," Mr. Schumer

Joining Mr. Schumer at Wednesday's announcement were state Sen. Darrel
J. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent; Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell,
D-Theresa; Jefferson County Sheriff John P. Burns; District Attorney
Cindy F. Intschert; Watertown Police Chief Joseph J. Goss; and Mayor
Jeffrey E. Graham, as well as several county legislators.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin