Two media releases from U.S. Customs and Border Protection relating to narcotics — one from the Northern border and one from the Southwest one — are fairly noteworthy in their own individual ways. The former reveals that none of this country's borders are immune to smuggling. The latter shows the depths to which smugglers will sink.
In the first, Border Patrol agents from the Bonner's Ferry (Idaho) Station were apprised that there were some unusual doings on a remote forest service road on Friday. They responded, and saw two people hiding in the woods.
They were hiding with good reason, it turns out. When the agents approached, the pair absconded into Canada, leaving behind five duffel bags containing 84 pounds of cocaine (street value: about $1.2 million) and 198 pounds of methamphetamine (cost: $960,000). That means that two people were schlepping 282 pounds of drugs, or in terms that smugglers would better comprehend, $3.61 million in "product".
That is not all that the agents spied. A Range Rover was speeding into the United States away from the site, so the agents notified the Idaho State Police, who quickly made a stop and took the driver into custody (smuggling charges are pending).
The agents also called the Mounties, or more formally, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP got their men, and took the two into custody in Canada. It is not clear whether they will face charges in this country or that one, but they definitely are looking at the prospect of jail time.
Drug cases normally focus on the Mexican side of the U.S. border, but this one shows that neither is immune from the risk. Were the drugs headed north or south? CBP does not say, but it really doesn't matter. We owe an obligation to our neighbors to stop the drug trade, with its attended violence and death that has ravaged communities in our country, Canada, and (especially) Mexico.
We rarely think of Canada as being a trafficking hot spot, but perhaps we should start, because as the Toronto Sun reported in May 2019:
Hundreds of criminals connected to the illegal drug trade are freely plying their trades as importers, go-betweens and hitmen in Canada — according to Quebec news outlet TVA Nouvelles — largely because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government dropped the visa requirement for Mexican travelers.
TVA investigative journalist Felix Seguin spoke to several in-the-know sources who revealed there are 400 criminals who have recently entered Canada to traffic drugs — half of them living in Quebec while the other half are presumed to be mainly operating in the Toronto area.
Several of those 400 criminals reportedly used fake Mexican passports, not surprisingly, given how tightly Canada controls entry into its country.
The fact that Canada allowed those individuals in, coupled with the fact that the Border Patrol has to secure the two countries' expansive shared 5,525-mile border (almost 4,000 miles of which spans the northern parts of the lower 48 states), presents a serious danger to this country, as well. Drug gangs do not respect international boundaries, as the Idaho case suggests.
Apparently, adding Mexico to its visa waiver countries has had other effects north of the border, as well. Specifically, Mexican asylum claims in Canada jumped by almost 1,170 percent (from 260 to more than 3,300) between 2016 and 2018. Not a lot of cases by U.S. standards, but in 2019, Canada only processed 64,045 asylum claims, so it is a lot by theirs.
Speaking of Mexico, last Wednesday, a U.S.-citizen mother was driving her three children (ages 13, 12, and five) from that country into El Paso through the Ysleta Port of Entry, when CBP officers waved her vehicle into secondary inspection.
A canine alerted that there were drugs in the front passenger seat, and when CBP officers checked, they saw that the oldest child (a boy, again, of 13) "had a square shaped item protruding from his back." That "item" turned out to contain 2.25 pounds of methamphetamine and (somewhat astoundingly) 1.10 pounds of fentanyl, in bundles that were taped to the boy.
As two milligrams is a lethal dose of fentanyl, this quantity of that drug alone was enough to kill nearly a quarter-million people.
Even more astounding, however, is the craven nature of the mother's crime. I have heard of any number of smuggling methods (including in breast implants), but using one's own child (or any child) as a drug mule is a new low in depravity. But it shows how desperate smugglers have become as CBP drug seizures (particularly of fentanyl and meth) soared between FY 2018 and FY 2020.
The appetite for illegal drugs in this country (and Canada) and a large supply of them south of our border means that CBP has to work overtime to stop the flow. Plainly, stronger barriers along that border would help the agency control that traffic by funneling it to the ports, where officers are better equipped to find drugs (as in the El Paso case), but those barriers remain (for some reason) a hot-button political issue.
They should not be. For the good of our communities, and our neighbors.