Border

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Crossing the Border

I'm off to Spokane, Washington, in a few minutes, which means I will be crossing the US-Canadian border at one of the remote ports of entry above Spokane. I'm coming from BC Bud country, which means the border crossing is always, um, interesting. You never know whether they are going to wave you through in a matter of a few seconds, or tear your vehicle apart, make you empty your pockets, and maybe even do a strip search. It always makes me feel so wanted by my homeland. It helps if you have a reasonable story. It seems like there's nothing to set the border guards off like a little uncertainty or nervousness. Up here, they are mainly looking for pot (and in the other direction, the Canadians are looking for cash, cocaine, and guns). The astounding thing is that they would think anyone would go through the ports of entry with a load of weed, when all you have to do is look around at the wild, pine forest-covered mountains that make up the border around here. There are remote logging roads that bisect the border, there are smuggling trails left over from alcohol Prohibition, there are miles of trackless wilderness where nobody goes except young men with backpacks full of weed who hike, bike, ski, or ride horses to the other side where those American dollars are waiting. Ah, yet another border crossing. Always a thrill.
Location: 
United States

Karen Tandy Retaliates Against DEA Whistle-blower

This ugly story provides a frightening example of the sordid relationships our government maintains when conducting international narcotics investigations.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Sandalio “Sandy” Gonzalez was shown the door after submitting a memo implicating a U.S. Government informant in several murders in Mexico.

From WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX:

Gonzalez began in early 2004 to question the U.S. government's role in allowing an informant to commit possible crimes, even murder. Twelve bodies had been uncovered in a small duplex in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico - a short drive from Gonzalez’s El Paso office. Gonzalez, however, became shocked when he began to review government reports, including a report saying a paid U.S. informant supervised and participated in at least one murder at the cartel-operated house.

I guess even a high-ranking DEA agent has to draw the line somewhere. But Gonzalez’s superiors in Washington, D.C. didn’t appreciate his principled stand:

Troubled by what he found, Gonzalez ultimately wrote a memo to his ICE counterpart in El Paso, and sent a copy to the Justice Department. That was the beginning of the end of his career. “It was a classic case of shooting the messenger,” Gonzalez said. Gonzalez got a bad job review from DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, his boss. And felt pressure to retire early.

A more detailed account available at The Narcosphere, is quite a read. Still, this mess has largely escaped the headlines, surely to the satisfaction of Karen Tandy and her colleagues.

It’s no secret that our government frequently hires criminals to do its dirty work in the drug war, but condoning murder is a questionable sacrifice even by the drug war’s flimsy moral standards.

Seeing Karen Tandy take a stand against whistle-blowing at DEA is alarming given her agency’s vulnerability to internal corruption. It makes you wonder what else these guys are up to when they’re not busy interfering with the democratic process.

Location: 
United States

Smugglers Innovate as Border Tightens

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
USA Today
URL: 
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060803/a_borderdrugs03.art.htm

Drug Czar: Meth Battles Needs Tighter Border Control, Treatment

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/15172904.htm

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