FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 9, 2011
AT SCHUMER’S URGING, DHS SECRETARY NAPOLITANO AGREES TO DEPLOY MILITARY-GRADE RADAR TECHNOLOGY ALONG THE NORTHERN BORDER; MOVE PUSHED BY SCHUMER WILL COMBAT GROWING DRUG SMUGGLING PROBLEM
Secretary Napolitano Announces DHS Will Use Military-Grade Radar Technology to Secure Northern Border; Move In Response to Schumer Urging Sec. Napolitano to Use Radar and Prevent Drug Smuggling
February GAO Report Showed Only 32 of 4,000 Miles of Border Are Secure; Drug Smuggling From Canada Has Devastating Effect On Upstate Communities
Schumer: Move is Step in Right Direction; Utilizing Radar Tech Can Bring Keep Drugs Out and Add New Jobs to Border Communities
Today, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano will deploy military-grade radar technology to the Northern Border to combat rampant drug smuggling. This comes at Senator Schumer’s urging, after a February Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showed that only 32 of the nearly 4,000 miles that make up the US-Canada border are considered secure. In conjunction with President Barack Obama’s and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s announcement to improve border security, Schumer sought to implement radar technology that specializes in tracking low-altitude planes that can be used to smuggle drugs over the border. Today, in response to questioning from Senator Schumer at a Judiciary Committee hearing, Secretary Napolitano announced that DHS will deploy such radar technology, which will help combat the devastating effects of drug smuggling on border communities. The radar technology has already undergone a test near the Spokane, WA section of the border where it proved to be an effective tool in the fight against drug smuggling from Canada.
"Secretary Napolitano’s decision to deploy radar technology across the US-Canadian border to combat the increase in drug smuggling is a critical step in the right direction,” Schumer said. “These recent shocking GAO reports make it clear that we have a long way to go when it comes to securing our Northern Border and keeping drugs out of bordering states, and fortunately deploying this military-grade radar technology on the front lines has already proven effective in detecting low-flying planes that can be chock full of illegal drugs. I am pleased with today’s news, and will push the Department of Homeland Security to install these radars as quickly as possible.”
Secretary Napolitano has agreed to deploy this military-grade radar technology across the Northern Border of the US and Canada, in order to secure the border and decrease drug-smuggling. This comes in response to Senator Schumer’s February 10, 2011 letter, in which Schumer called for the use of military-grade radar technology along the border and pointed specifically to the success of Operation Outlook. Operation Outlook is a pilot program that was run between 2005 to 2008, and involved cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to use sophisticated military-grade radar technology along the Spokane, WA sector of the northern border to catch low-flying aircraft that would otherwise not have been caught with the current technology used by DHS.
According to the Border Patrol, Operation Outlook, "successfully identified air-related smuggling trends and patterns and organizations active in cross-border criminal activities," along the Spokane sector. The program also revealed that far more aircraft were flying at low altitudes to smuggle drugs than previously thought. Based on this information, Schumer strongly encouraged the feds to resume and expand the successful program, and Secretary Napolitano’s announcement today is a step in that direction.
Statistics from media reports and the Department of Homeland Security clearly demonstrate that drug smuggling from Canada into the United States is on the rise. Between 2007 and 2009, border seizures of marijuana increased by 22%. From 2004 to 2009, seizures of ecstasy multiplied by an astounding six times, to over 2 million doses. Heroin seizures increased from 3 kilograms in 2005 to 28 kilograms in 2009, and cocaine seizures jumped from less than 1 kilogram in 2005 to 18 kilograms during the same time period.
Last year, there were more than 24,000 arrests across Upstate New York related to the possession of illicit drugs, an average per-county increase of 84% from 2001. For example, in the Capital Region, there were 2,993 drug-related adult arrests in 2010, an increase of 64% from 2001, in Western New York, there were 5,965 drug-related adult arrests in 2010, an increase of 65% from 2001, and in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there were 2,779 drug-related arrests of adults in 2010, an increase of 72% from 2001.
The increases in illegal drug smuggling across the U.S.-Canada border represents a real and serious threat. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in November 2010 signaling that "cross-border use of low-flying aircraft to smuggle drugs has been much higher than indicated by the number of drug seizures." In addition, a recent report from Hearst Newspapers indicates that "drug gangs ratcheted up shipments" of illegal drugs over the border during the last decade.
Given the success of Operation Outlook, and given the alarming increase in smuggling activity along the U.S.-Canada border, Schumer wrote in his February 10th letter that he is eager to "stand ready to help with any legislation necessary to further...[the] mission of protecting America." Schumer furthers this pledge, and calls Secretary Napolitano’s commitment to deploy radar technology on the Northern Border an important decision for securing and protecting border states and their communities.