Drug Policy

Customs Can't Catch Cash

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This week the Government Accountability Office reported (PDF) that U.S. Customs and Border Protection manages to seize somewhere between 0.08 percent and 0.2 percent of the illicit drug proceeds that are smuggled across the border into Mexico every year. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, those proceeds total $18 billion to $39 billion a year. It does not really matter which end of that range you pick, because CBP seized only $65 million at the southwest border during the two-year period from March 2009 through February 22 of this year. Striking an optimistic note, the GAO's Richard Stana told the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control "opportunities exist for strengthening the federal government's efforts to stem cross-border currency smuggling," such as cracking down on gift cards.

On the bright side, Narcoleaks says drug warriors seized 94.1 metric tons of cocaine from January 1 through Monday, which puts them on track to confiscate three-quarters of the world's illicit cocaine this year, assuming you believe the U.S. State Department's production estimate. Which suggests a way CBP can improve its cash-catching numbers without scrutinizing everyone's gift cards: Why not just talk to the National Drug Intelligence Center about revising its estimate of drug money crossing the border?

More on Narcoleaks here.

[via CNS News]

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