Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Border wall won't stop flow of illegal drugs, say experts; few drugs transported through rural areas

Experts on the drug trade say a U.S.-Mexico border wall will do little to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S., Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. That's because it's a myth that the majority of drugs are transported across the border through rural and remote areas. Most drugs are actually driven across the border at checkpoints.

The Drug Enforcement Administration even acknowledges this, writing in its 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment that "Mexican drug cartels 'transport the bulk of their drugs over the Southwest border through ports of entry (POEs) using passenger vehicles or tractor trailers," Ingraham writes. The report states that "drugs are typically secreted in hidden compartments when transported in passenger vehicles or comingled with legitimate goods when transported in tractor trailers.”

Experts say "the image of drug smugglers who run drugs across remote stretches of the Southwest border is largely a fiction," Ingraham writes. Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told him, "Smuggling drugs in cars is far easier than carrying them on the backs of people through a really harsh desert terrain. The higher the fence will be, the more will go through ports of entry."

Inrgaham notes that the Trump administration knows this. He writes, "At an April hearing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly acknowledged that illegal drugs 'mostly come through the ports of entry.' At a separate hearing in February, the director of a customs border task force told lawmakers that 'the Southwest land border POEs are the major points of entry for illegal drugs, where smugglers use a wide variety of tactics and techniques for concealing drugs'."

Adam Isaacson, senior associate for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human-rights group, said "smart border drug policy would mean improving those ports of entry instead of building a wall," Ingraham writes. He told Ingraham, "If you really want to go after [the drug] problem, go after the ports of entry."

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