Border Security Interferes With Drug Traffic

Border Security Interferes With Drug Traffic
Posted by FoM on October 01, 2001 at 12:03:58 PT
By Ashanti M. Alvarez, Staff Writer
Source: Bergen Record
The pound of marijuana Sammy usually sells for pocket money every week or two has to cross hundreds of miles to reach him. The drug changes hands several times along the way, but the most pivotal crossing point is the border between the United States and Canada. And that's why Sammy is looking for a new supplier.Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the flow of traffic through any crossing -- be it bridge, tunnel, airport gate, harbor, or national border -- has slowed to a crawl, as investigators examine people, packages, and vehicles more closely.
With dozens of guards rummaging through every vehicle and truck, smugglers are reluctant to try moving their goods into the United States, authorities say. As a result, they say, there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of contraband hitting the streets.Drug seizures at U.S. borders have dropped dramatically in recent weeks.From Sept. 11 through 23, inspectors at California's border crossings seized 4,179 pounds of marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs -- a fraction of the more than 29,000 pounds they reported finding during the same period last year.Results have been similar, although to a lesser degree, at other crossings: Over that same span, inspectors in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas have seized about 4,500 pounds, compared with more than 15,000 pounds last year."Drug traffickers aren't stupid. They have people at the border that monitor what we do," said Kevin Bell, spokesman for the U.S. Customs Service.As investigators look to thwart more terrorist attacks while gathering intelligence on those responsible for the deadliest strike on American soil, other effects clearly are felt."This has caused caution on the part of the drug traffickers," said Ken Hess, the New Jersey State Police bureau chief for narcotics and organized crime. "It might make them more cautious, and they might find an alternate route."The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says South America has surpassed Southwest Asia -- including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran -- as the United States' main supplier of heroin, which is primarily smuggled in one- to two-kilogram shipments by couriers aboard commercial airlines.The method has become much riskier, however.Within hours of the Sept. 11 attacks, Customs and immigration inspectors were at "Alert Level 1," stopping and searching every vehicle and pedestrian entering the United States from Mexico.They also installed a metal detector at the pedestrian crossing in San Diego and added more inspectors with dogs trained to sniff out drugs in the lines of people and cars.The measures are in addition to an array of high-tech tools employed along the border, including X-ray-like devices that scan the loads in long-haul trucks, license-plate readers, and scopes designed to find drugs inside "trap cars" that have secret compartments in fuel tanks and dashboards."This causes the smugglers clearly to stop. They stop, they try to assess, they probe for new weaknesses," said Bob Brown, acting deputy director of the supply reduction division of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.Cocaine, produced primarily in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, moves by land or air to northern Mexico, where it is broken into smaller shipments and smuggled across the border by couriers in tractor-trailers and other large vehicles, authorities said. Some shipments are moved by boat after packages are dropped from the air into the Caribbean.In the past three weeks, officials say, smugglers have apparently stopped using the borders of Canada or Mexico, unwilling to test the U.S. authorities.As a result, dealers and users are expected to rely more heavily on the supply already moving within U.S. borders.Sammy, a Bergen Community College student who did not want his real name used, said his marijuana supplier took several days before acquiring a new source. Instead of coming from Canada, the batch he received last week was hydroponically grown indoors in Oregon."Not one of my usual guys [suppliers] had B.C. bud this week," he said, referring to British Columbia, Canada's largest producer of marijuana.One of the suspected terrorists allegedly crossed the Canadian border into Maine en route to Boston's Logan International Airport. And in December 1999, Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian living in Montreal, was stopped trying to enter Washington State with bomb-making materials in his car."One guy I know said they were searching every single car and truck up there," Sammy said.For now, heightened security might mean fewer drugs on the street, law enforcement authorities said."The drug dealers are taking a beating," said a Passaic County narcotics investigator. "Nothing's coming in or going out. It's killing their business.""You're definitely going to see a reduction," said Salvatore Bellomo, a senior assistant prosecutor who works with Passaic County's Narcotics Task Force. "I think people are going to be a little more reluctant to participate as drug couriers."Another upshot, authorities say, is a price increase."What's here is going to be used," said James Wittig, deputy police chief in charge of narcotics in Paterson. "Then you're going to see prices increase."The effect won't be limited to current supplies, Wittig said. Those traffickers holding their supplies at sites near the borders while waiting to see whether security is going to ease "might stockpile," he said."If they're only going to make $10,000 on a kilo, they'll wait until they can make $25,000 on a kilo," Wittig said.The difference in profit would be about $7 million for one shipment of 500 kilograms of cocaine.Brown, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, believes the nation can fight the war on terrorism and the war on drugs simultaneously."Clearly there's a nexus between all the criminal groups to include drug-trafficking criminals," he said. "There is scrutiny by intelligence the world over. . . . A lot of what they do as counter-drug work is not exclusive against counterterrorism."Complete Title: Tightened Border Security Interfering with Illicit Drug Traffic Source: Bergen Record (NJ)Author: Ashanti M. Alvarez, Staff WriterPublished: Monday, October 1, 2001Copyright: 2001 Bergen Record Corp.Website: letterstotheeditor northjersey.comRelated Articles: Officials Report Drop in Drug Smuggling Down Sharply Amid Security Squeeze Borders are Early Casualties of War
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Comment #5 posted by freedom fighter on October 02, 2001 at 17:40:05 PT
Hey, Curendero
May you harvest many more...Blessed are those who just do it..Peace be with you and your family and friends..ff
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Comment #4 posted by Spiderman on October 02, 2001 at 12:06:26 PT
buy organic and free-trade
Good post, Saduca; raises more important issues than the things that were going through my head while reading the article. The human tragedy that's happening because of under-funded, badly administrated Afghanistan (see for what I believe the best article I have read on the subject to date) is truly sickening. However, the above article brought home to me just how the drug war is going to be worsened by the American retaliation to the WTC and Pentagon bombings, and how closely related the war on terrorism and drugs are, both ideologically and practically. As the supply of hard drugs to the country decreases the price will inevitably rise. Domestic crimes will go up, and in a true drug war response the (supposedly anti-terrorism) infringements to civil liberty we're about to enjoy will be further 'justified' by this. At the same time, the heroin-rich Taliban will have a cash crop that grows in value with every celebrated bust made at a US border. Not of it is winnable. You can't win the war against drugs because it's a war against freedom, and you can't win a war against terrorism because it's a war against ideology. Terrorism is the last resort of desparate people - the more you hammer them the more desparate they become and the more horrorific will be their response. America (like all the West) needs to help it's new-sworn enemies more than ever before; to turn the other cheek and offer assistance to those that it has neglected and abused. One way of doing this would be to spend its money not on bombs but aid for the ordinary citizens of Afghanistan. Another way would be to end the drug war. That America won't 'turn the other cheek' is proof that the terrorists have acheived a major goal - the crushing of the Christian sprit in the West. That the harbourers of bin Laden will profit from the drug war is proof that America's repressive policies, far from prevent disaster, fuel it. If the suffering is going to stop America needs to admit its mistakes and drastically change its policies now. Unfortunately I don't think the country is feeling very humble at the moment. 
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Comment #3 posted by curendero on October 02, 2001 at 06:59:46 PT
buy american
 Just a quick note...IT'S HarveSt TiMe!...First 6 plants are in...5 more finishing up in the fat Mendocino sun! And aside from a lot of back breaking labor and less than $300. in dirt and fert, it is free! Expect to flood MY local market (All my friends and relatives that is) with around 3 lbs of some very tasty medicine. Free Free Free...take that u price support units.
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Comment #2 posted by Sudaca on October 01, 2001 at 15:33:27 PT
chew on this
"To all the newly-minted patriots, put down your shiny Made-in-Taiwan flags for a moment and try to attack this: The Pakistan government reports that right now, along the Afghan-Pakistani border, there are an estimated one million Afghani civilian peasants who, based only on their rational fear that a bloody war is about to be waged in their territory, are trying to leave the country. Pakistan officials have sealed the border. Already malnourished and impoverished, many of these people - who were not responsible for the attacks of September 11th- are likely going to die, stuck in the place with no exit, many of them slowly, painfully. This, before a single Raytheon-brand missile is fired. The mere threat of war has already sealed the fate of innocents. The threat was delivered, like a Son-of-Sam letter, by the media.
If I point out that these deaths are foreseeable, preventable, and will likely constitute, in pure numbers, a greater death toll than that of September 11th, well, I have just invited the same kind of vilification that others have faced in recent days. So be it. For I have simply repeated verifiable facts and commented part of my opinion as to their likely tragic consequences. That is my job, journalist, and if you use that title, too, it ought to be yours. You will only know that you are doing your job at the moment the Sunshine Patriots attack you. Until then, you are wasting ink, electricity and talent.
"the rest of the Article is on Point being; this is the flipside of the self congratulatory article. 
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Comment #1 posted by mayan on October 01, 2001 at 13:21:56 PT
"Brown, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, believes the nation can fight the war on terrorism and the war on drugs simultaneously."
I say this logic sucks and blows simultaneously!They were losing the war on drugs without even having to fight another war. What makes these dumbasses think they can now do both.Message to the Feds: It's time to prioritize boys! You have lost the war on drugs. It's over. Done. Stick a fork in it already.
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