NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Law Enforcement Studying Drug Smuggling at the Canada-U.S. Border


February 1998

Recently, ten attorneys general and justice ministers from Western Canada met to discuss the increase in drug smuggling across the U.S.-Canada border (Marina Jimenez, "U.S.-B.C. Drug Smuggling Sparks Probe," Vancouver Sun, February 9, 1998, p. A1).

British Columbia attorney general Ujjal Dosanjh and Christine Gregoire, attorney general for Washington state, plan to meet with top police officials to discuss drug smuggling across the Washington state and Canadian border. "The border county prosecutor told me there is a new strain of heroin and coke of a magnitude the we've not seen before," said Gregoire. One topic of discussion is the migration on U.S. marijuana growers to British Columbia where they set up operations to export their product back into the U.S. "I have been advised by police sources that marijuana growing operations are under the control of biker gangs and organized crime and the crop is then shipped into the U.S.," said Dosanjh

On October 12, 1997, CNN's "Impact" reported that high-potency marijuana is being produced indoors in Canada and exported to the U.S. According to that program, so much marijuana is entering the U.S. at Blaine, Washington on the U.S.-Canada border that the U.S. has designated it a high-intensity drug trafficking area (HIDTA). The program claimed that backpackers carrying up to 50 pounds of marijuana easily walk through the bushes into the U.S. (Transcript, "Canada Cannabis," CNN Impact, October 12, 1997).

In the east, police officials say that marijuana may be the number one cash crop in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario. Constable Glenn Holland of the Kingston (Ontario) drug squad said, "Canada used to be an importer of marijuana, now we're an exporter. Right around here, we're growing some of the best dope in the world" (Ron Corbett, "Going to Pot," Ottawa Sun, October 12, 1997).

According to January 1997 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, "Hydroponic cultivation of marijuana has experienced an unprecedented boom. Canadian hydroponic marijuana is now being exported to the United States" (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Criminal Intelligence Directorate, "Drug Situation Canada: 1996," January 1997).

The RCMP report predicts, "With the forecasted increase in methamphetamine demand in the United States, more U.S. groups will travel to Canada to purchase precursors and even set up illicit laboratories for the manufacture of the drug ... Canadian-based outlaw motorcycle gangs will undoubtedly take advantage of these developments and step up the supply of methamphetamine to the United States."

[With demand stable for illicit drugs in the U.S. and increased pressure against drug smuggling at the U.S.-Mexico border, Canada may become the primary entry point of illegal drugs, particularly marijuana, into the United States. I am skeptical that U.S. law enforcement will be able to effectively police the 8,900 km of land border and 2,440 km of water border between the U.S. and Canada. -- RCT]

Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire - Office of the Attorney General, P.O. Box 40100, Olympia, WA 98504-0100, Tel: (360) 753-6200, Fax: (360) 586-8474

British Columbia Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh - Room 232, Parliament Building, Victoria, British Columbia, V8V 1X4, CANADA, Tel: (250) 387-1866, Fax: (250) 387-6411.