Pubdate: Thu, 22 Apr 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Carol DeMare, Staff writer


Obama Budget to Cut Up to $1.5 Million Used to Stop Trafficking

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Wednesday he would fight 
"tooth-and-nail" to get up to $1.5 million restored to the federal 
budget, funds that help support a network that supplies intelligence 
on drug trafficking at the Canadian border to authorities in several 
counties, including Albany.

The Obama administration's budget for fiscal 2011 slashes funding for 
the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program aimed at curbing 
drug sales and related violence in regions throughout the state and 
the nation, Schumer said.

Millions of dollars would be lost to New York by a 15 percent cut in 
the program, the Democratic senator said in announcing that he would 
introduce legislation "to make sure we devote resources to stop drug 
trafficking at the northern border, just as we have at the southern border."

"In spite of an increasing amount of drugs being smuggled over the 
Canadian border, the administration has yet to put together a 
comprehensive strategy to combat this scourge, as they have for the 
southern border," Schumer said. The lack of a strategy "to stop drugs 
from coming into New York, especially upstate," and the cutting of 
funds "could leave New York outgunned in its fight against drug 
crimes. Illegal drug trafficking is coming right through the heart of 
New York every day."

In the Capital Region, 3,100 adults were arrested on drug charges 
last year, the senator said.

Overall, the 2011 budget proposes cutting HIDTA funding by 12 percent 
from $239 million to $210 million. In New York, the cuts would range 
from $1.2 million to $1.5 million. HIDTA's mission is to assist 
federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in dismantling and 
disrupting drug trafficking organizations throughout the U.S.

Participating in the conference call with reporters were Albany 
County District Attorney David Soares and his counterparts from 
Monroe, Onondaga and Franklin counties, four of the eight counties 
that rely on HIDTA funds.

Soares said the Northway is referred to by drug dealers as the 
"yellow brick road." The county is a crossroads, with "Thruway Exits 
23 and 24 connecting to the largest market, Canada to New York City," 
he said. From Albany County, connections can be made from Boston to 
Buffalo, he said. "Having that intelligence enables us to pick off 
these traffickers here in Albany County," Soares said.

"Narcotics traffickers are not looking at budgets, and they're not 
slashing their budgets, they're just increasing their level of 
activity," Soares said.

Schumer, who was speaking from Washington, said since 2007 cocaine 
seizures at the northern border have risen from less than 1 kilogram 
to 18 kilograms, with heroin going from less than 1 kilogram to 28 
kilograms. Marijuana seizures have gone from 2,791 kilograms to 3,423 
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