FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 21, 2010
SCHUMER REVEALS: FEDS LACK COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO FIGHT DRUG SMUGGLING FROM CANADA AND PLAN TO CUT FUNDING TO CRITICAL FEDERAL-LOCAL ANTI-DRUG PARTNERSHIP
Despite a Rise in Drugs Smuggled Across Northern Border, Feds Have Yet To Developed Comprehensive Strategy To Combat Canadian Drug Smuggling - Southern Border Strategy Already in Place
Administration Budget Slashes Funding For Critical Drug Enforcement Programs In Albany, Onondaga, Erie, Monroe, Westchester, Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence - Drugs Smuggled From North Found All O
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget slashes funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Program (HIDTA), a critical program aimed at curbing drug trafficking, crime, sales, and abuse in every region in New York State. And in spite 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 that a combination of these two factors – a lack of an overall strategy, and funding cuts to anti drug crime programs in Albany, Onondaga, Erie, Monroe, Westchester, Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence – could leave New York outgunned in its fight against drug crimes. Schumer’s proposal, The Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act of 2010, has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Bill Owens.
“Upstate New York is one of the greatest to places to raise a family, not just in the country, but on earth,” Schumer said. “To keep the quality of life so high, we’ve got to use every resource we have to combat those who would do our families harm, and we need to push back hard against the recent rise in drug smuggling across the Canadian border. It is concerning that no one has yet developed a comprehensive strategy for fighting drug smuggling across the northern border, and it’s a problem that has to be addressed immediately.”
“HIDTA funding is a critical investment in fighting drug trafficking, drug related crimes, and drug use in New York. Reducing resources to combat drug trafficking in New York only puts the safety of our communities at risk,” Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said. “ I join Senator Schumer in urging the Administration to ensure that the HIDTA in New York receives the full resources necessary to investigate, analyze, and reduce drug trafficking.”
“HIDTA funding has led to the dismantling of significant cross border narcotics smuggling operations; these operations also smuggle aliens, weapons and other illicit items which are a direct threat to our homeland security,” Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said. “Any decreased funding will directly affect our ability Upstate to secure our border (not only from drug smugglers) but from terrorists.”
“HIDTA is a program that St. Lawrence County reaps the benefits of time and time again in our fight against drug trafficking,” St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole DuveÌ said. “ Being on an international border with miles of coastline and two border crossings, presents a unique challenge to our county. If funding is reduced to this vital program, it will jeopardize our ongoing efforts to protect St. Lawrence County families from the crimes associated with drug trafficking.”
Today, Schumer announced plans to introduce legislation requiring the administration to develop a comprehensive strategy to address illegal drugs coming from Canada into New York, and announced his intention to restore the HIDTA funds the administration proposed cutting in its budget. While making his case, Schumer released a county by county report detailing drug arrests in the last year. Schumer made the case that New York’s efforts to tackle drug smuggling is being weakened on two crucial fronts. On one level, the Administration has proposed cuts to the HIDTA program which if enacted will hamstring local governments as they try to combat a growing problem in difficult fiscal times. On another level, the Administration has still failed to take a comprehensive approach to drug trafficking along the country’s northern border. The approach has left cash strapped governments struggling to combat a growing problem that will only get worse due to cuts in programs like HIDTA.
Drug trafficking has become an increasing problem in Northern New York as international drug smugglers seek every available route to bring their products into the United States. For example, America’s northern border is now the lead gateway for ecstasy to enter the U.S. Since 2005, seizures of ecstasy coming across the northern border has been eight times greater than seizures in our country’s southwest border. And during the last five years law enforcement officials across the country’s northern border have seized an average of almost 400 kilograms of ecstasy per year. Looking at law enforcement seizures reveals just one side of the problem. Schumer’s new legislation gets to the heart of the problem by mandating that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) devise and implement a comprehensive counternarcotics plan similar to the plan used to combat drug trafficking from America’s southern border.
Since 2007, cocaine seizures at the northern border have risen from less than 1kg to 18kg; heroin seizures have gone from less than 1kg to 28kg; marijuana seizures have gone from 2,791kg to 3,423kg and; ecstasy seizures have gone from 240kg to 303kg.
In the Administrations Fiscal Year 2011 Budget, the Administration proposed cutting HIDTA funding by 12 percent from $239 million down to $210 million. Schumer said this could translate to an estimated cut of between $1.2 million to $1.5 million cut for the New York HIDTA that covers 15 counties in New York. The New York HIDTA received some $10 million last year. With these funds the New York HIDTA has developed the Investigative Support Center (ISC), one of the largest, most comprehensive criminal intelligence centers in the country, consisting of over 600 officers and crime analysts. Law enforcement agencies throughout the region are able to share information through various components of the ISC. The New York HIDTA has also developed the Narcotics Intelligence Unit to provide strategic analysis and case support for drug-related investigations, as well as several pointed task forces to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking networks. The areas are covered by HIDTA are New York City and Albany, Clinton, Erie, Franklin, Monroe, Nassau, Onondaga, St. Lawrence, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties
The mission of the HIDTA program is to disrupt the market for illegal drugs in the United States by assisting federal, state, and local law enforcement entities to dismantle and disrupt drug trafficking organizations – with an emphasis on drug trafficking regions that have harmful effects on other parts of the United States. Since 1990, 28 regions in the United States, comprising 14% of U.S. counties, have been designated as HIDTAs and are eligible to receive targeted funding through the program. A HIDTA is regarded as a coordinating umbrella for federal, state and local agencies. The goal of the HIDTA program is to enhance integration and invest in partnerships between federal, state, and local agencies, while eliminating unnecessary overlap and duplication of efforts. Once the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the office that runs the HIDTA program, designates a region as a HIDTA, it can receive federal money to help local law enforcement clamp down on illegal drugs transported through those counties. The particular HIDTA’s Executive Board then allocates funding in order to fight drug trafficking in the region most effectively.
The New York/New Jersey HIDTA program, with its main offices in Manhattan, currently encompasses 17 counties located throughout New York and northeastern New Jersey. The New York portion of the region consists of the five boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island), the two outer counties of Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk), Westchester County, and four upstate counties that were added in 2007: Albany, Erie, Monroe, and Onondaga. The New Jersey portion consists of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, and Union Counties. The New York/New Jersey HIDTA is led by an Executive Board consisting of 24 federal, state, and local law enforcement leaders, and has partnerships with over 100 federal, state, local, and non-government agencies within the New York metropolitan area and beyond.
For years, Schumer has been a strong supporter of the HIDTA program and has successfully worked to add Upstate New York counties to the program. Since 2007, Schumer has successfully urged the expansion of the HIDTA program to include Onondaga, Albany, Erie and Monroe Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. Just recently, Schumer pressed the Administration to include Jefferson County in the program so that the local government could begin to combat increased drug trafficking.
In 2009 here are how drug arrested broke down across the state:
· In the Capital Region, there were 3,100 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
· In the Western New York, there were 6,100 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
· In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there were 2,800 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
· In the Southern Tier, there were 1,400 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
· In Central New York, there were 2,400 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
· In the Hudson Valley, there were 7,100 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
· In the North Country, there were 1,100 drug-related arrests of adults in 2009.
Schumer added, “Right now New York’s communities are outgunned in the fight against drugs and that just can’t continue. I’m hopeful that this effort will get the ball rolling on a new approach and ensure that our counties have the resources they need to combat this problem.”