Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jul 2009
Source: Red River Valley Echo, The (CN MB)
Copyright: 2009 Altona Red River Valley Echo
Author: Greg Vandermeulen


News that Hwy. 75 funnels billions of dollars in international trade 
from Winnipeg to U.S. destinations is not something that would 
ordinarily cause alarm.

Report causes concern

But after a National Drug Intelligence Center report out of the U.S. 
suggested the highway was being used to funnel drugs and guns across 
the border, Manitoba's PC party has raised the alarm.

PC Justice Critic Kelvin Goertzen referred to a recent sentencing of 
a Winnipeg man for smuggling guns into Canada in exchange for drugs, 
saying we shouldn't be surprised this kind of thing is happening.

"For years we have said dangerous guns are coming into Manitoba in 
exchange for drugs that are grown and produced in Manitoba and for 
years the NDP government has dismissed the problem," he said. 
Goertzen added that things are going to get worse.

"Guns and drugs are the currency in which gangs trade in and the 
value of that currency just keeps going up and up in our province," he said.

Goertzen was referring to the American report called the "2009 
Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis."

The report discusses the smuggling of high potency marijuana from 
Manitoba to the U.S., and speculates that illegal drugs in the 
Dakota's and Omaha markets may rise as drug production in Manitoba increases.

The report assumes that the demand for drugs will rise in the Winnipeg area.

"The Fargo/Grand Forks, Sioux City/Sioux Falls, and Omaha markets 
will be especially vulnerable to this increase, since I-29 connects 
with Canada's Manitoba Provincial Highway 75, which passes through 
Winnipeg," the report states.

Not just a border issue

Goertzen said the issue cannot simply be solved at the border and is 
urging the government to get involved and crack down on drugs being 
grown or manufactured in Manitoba.

"There is a direct link between the increased presence of guns on the 
streets of Winnipeg and the manufacturing of drugs," he said. "If you 
want to reduce guns, you have to reduce the drug trade."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart