Office of National Drug Control Policy Releases Comprehensive Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy
Border Plan Designed to Disrupt and Dismantle Trafficking Networks;
Reduce Drug Use and Crime in Border Communities
Washington, D.C.—Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, released the 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy—a key component of the Obama Administration’s unprecedented efforts to strengthen security along the Southwest border. The updated Strategy coordinates Federal, state, local, tribal, and international actions to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, cash, and weapons across the border. The Strategy also supplements the Administration’s recently released National Drug Control Strategy, which contains a series of reforms to enhance prevention, treatment, early health interventions, and alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts, to address the drug problem.
“This plan will build upon the progress we’ve achieved over the past several years to strengthen our border with Mexico as we work to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States,” said Director Kerlikowske. “Building resilient border communities involves the combined work of every sector of society – from Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities working to combat violent transnational criminal organizations to community organizations reaching out to young people to encourage them to make healthy decisions.”
The 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy outlines progress made since the implementation of the 2011 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy and provides updated objectives and actions that respond to evolving challenges and threats. The new Strategy also complements broader efforts to address the full array of drug-related problems. In April, the Obama Administration released a science-based drug policy that addresses the national drug challenge as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue.
Today, the Southwest border is better-patrolled than at any other time in history. Along the Southwest border, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased the number of personnel on the ground from approximately 9,100 Border Patrol agents in 2001 to more than 21,000 today. Since 2009, ICE HSI has deployed a quarter of all its operational personnel to the Southwest border region, doubled the number of officers dedicated to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations that pose a significant threat to border security, and more than tripled deployments by Border Liaison Officers who facilitate cooperation between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities. ICE HSI, FBI, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service have dedicated unprecedented numbers of Federal agents to the Southwest border and have significantly enhanced law enforcement partnerships with state, local, and tribal law enforcement as part of a multi-layered effort to target, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations.
Cooperation with Mexico to address the threats posed to both our nations by the illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons, illicit proceeds, and cartel operatives, remains strong. Since 2009, ATF has provided training in firearms and explosives identification to 1,568 Mexican law enforcement, military, and intelligence officials. The expansion of the e-trace weapons tracking software continues to generate leads and to assist both countries in disrupting gun trafficking networks.
The United States is also working to step up drug interdiction. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which now screens 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash, has expanded Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) surveillance coverage to the entire Southwest border and has completed 651 miles of fencing along the key trafficking areas. DHS has already deployed thousands of technology assets, including mobile surveillance units, thermal imaging systems, and large- and small-scale non-intrusive inspection equipment, along our borders. These deployments have significantly improved situational awareness and CBP’s ability to see what is happening at the border with regard to drug trafficking.
In February 2012, President Obama signed the Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012, which penalizes the use of ultralight aircraft that help with drug smuggling. Another piece of legislation, the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012, provides law enforcement officers and prosecutors with additional provisions that will enable them to more vigorously pursue, investigate, and prosecute those involved in illegal activity.
During 2009-2012, DHS seized 71 percent more currency, 39 percent more drugs, and 189 percent more weapons along the Southwest border as compared to fiscal years 2005-2008. DHS has increased the funding it provides to state and local law enforcement to combat border-related crime through the Operation STONEGARDEN grant program. Based on risk, cross-border traffic, and border-related threat intelligence, 81 percent of Operation STONEGARDEN awards between 2009 and 2012 went to Southwest border states.
In addition, the United States has made border cities among the safest in the country. Crime rates in border communities including Nogales, Douglas, Yuma, and other Arizona border towns have either remained flat or fallen in the past decade.
The rate of overall drug use in the United States has declined by roughly 30 percent since 1979. To build on this progress and support public health approaches to drug control, the Obama Administration has requested over $10 billion for drug education programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders in FY 2014. This includes a requested increase of $1.4 billion to expand prevention and treatment, the largest percentage increase in at least two decades.
For a full copy of the 2013 National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy click here.
For more information on national efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences, visit obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/DrugPolicyReform
The Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation’s effort to reduce drug use and its consequences.