Canada, U.S. to share more data in fight against cross-border gun smuggling, opioids
OTTAWA — Canada and the United States have agreed to share more information about the smuggling of guns and drugs across their shared border.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Ottawa has signed four new or updated agreements with Washington that allow the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency to exchange more data with partners south of the border.
"It means more joint investigations into gun smuggling and trafficking. It means even more exchanging of intelligence and information between our law enforcement agencies," Mendicino told reporters Friday afternoon in Ottawa.
He said the agreements under a rebooted Canada-U. S. Cross-Border Crime Forum will allow more information-sharing with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, such as on the role of cryptocurrency in money laundering.
Mendicino made the announcement alongside Justice Minister David Lametti and their American counterparts, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The agreements also aim to help stem the flow of opioids such as fentanyl, with Garland saying they will track the ingredients used to create the deadly drug and the flow of its components from China.
A joint statement commits both countries to "build a global coalition against synthetic drugs" that can help counter transnational organized crime and to identify and target shippers and receivers of firearms.
Mendicino said the four agreements "will allow us to leverage new technology that has recently emerged that will allow us to go after ghost guns in particular," referring to untracked, privately manufactured firearms used by gangs.
The four have pledged to review recent incidents of migrants dying along the border, pledging to hold smugglers accountable and crack down on irregular migration using sensors, personnel and timely information.
Yet the four leaders gave few details as to what had materially changed as a result of Friday's agreements.
"As the threat landscape proves so dynamic and complex, as changes in that landscape occur, we identify ways in which we can strengthen that partnership and take action," Mayorkas said.
"It's all about meeting the moment, meeting the changes that occur and addressing them in real time — sharing actionable, relevant information in real time."
The statement adds that law enforcement on both sides of the border will also be trained to have a shared understanding of privacy laws.
The American officials said the group also spoke about Haiti, where brazen gangs have filled a political power vacuum and have Washington worried about the spread of guns, drugs and gangs across the region.
Mayorkas and Garland did not dwell on Washington's request months ago to have Canada lead a military intervention, which Haiti's unelected government says would help stabilize the country.
Instead, they noted the importance of legal pathways for migration and helping Haiti have a functional police force.
"Both countries remain committed to exploring joint law enforcement actions in Haiti," reads the joint statement.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2023.
— With files from Jim Bronskill.
Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press