March 5, 2005


Violent New Front in Drug War Opens on the Canadian Border (SARAH KERSHAW, 3/05/05, NY Times)

The drugs move across the Canadian border inside huge tractor-trailer rigs, pounds and pounds stashed in drums of frozen raspberries, tucked in shipments of crushed glass, wood chips and sawdust, or crammed into hollowed-out logs, in secret compartments that agents refer to as "coffins."

Kayakers paddle them south from British Columbia across the freezing bays of America's northwest corner, and well-paid couriers carry up to 100 pounds at a time in makeshift backpacks, hiking eight hours over the rugged mountainous terrain that forms part of the border between the United States and Canada. Small planes drop them onto raspberry fields and dairy farms in hockey bags equipped with avalanche beacons to alert traffickers that the drugs have landed.

The contraband is called B.C. bud, a highly potent form of marijuana named for the Canadian province where it is grown, and it has become the center of what law enforcement officials say is an increasingly violent $7 billion cultivation and smuggling industry.

On Thursday, four officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were shot to death in Alberta, British Columbia's neighboring province, as they were searching a marijuana-growing operation, one of many on the rise there. The killings stunned a country that has apparently not lost that many officers at once since the mid-19th century. [...]

This new wave of drug trafficking, with Northwest Washington and Seattle a major transit point, comes as an enormous challenge to United States law enforcement agents stationed along the often invisible northern border. They are already dealing with the threat of terrorism, the flow of immigrants and new human smuggling operations - some run by some of the Canadian criminal organizations that move the marijuana south and cash, cocaine and guns north, American and Canadian law enforcement officials say.

The situation is also spotlighting sharp differences in the way the two countries deal with drug crimes, with some officials and experts on both sides of the border saying Canada's less stringent drug laws have made it harder to stem the flow of contraband moving north and south.

Just let them truck in one Hispanic and The American Conservative will devote a full issue to the crisis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 5, 2005 8:13 AM

I'm generally pro immigration, but you must be aware that illegal aliens from Mexico and Central America are probably the biggest smugglers distributors of cocaine in the western US? Which less welcome; a Canadien with 50 pounds of pot or Mexican with 50 pounds of coke? I'm certain there are more than a few tongue-in-cheek answers to that question.

Posted by: Pat H at March 5, 2005 10:04 AM

They aren't immigrants though, just couriers.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 10:08 AM

The smugglers are couriers, the distributors are immigrants. When distributors are caught and jailed, other immigrants have already been groomed to move up in the organization.

Posted by: Pat H at March 5, 2005 10:56 AM

So gangs of Mexicans are selling Seattle dopers their BC bud?

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 11:03 AM

Legalize the drugs and this ceases to be an issue. But of course we can't allow people to be responsible for their own behavior now can we? We need to be dictated to by those wonderful folks who run the Postal Service. We need to have moral hectoring by those paragons of virtue who gave us the Internal Revenue Code.

Posted by: Bart at March 5, 2005 11:09 AM

I assume there is no one stop shopping and each group sticks to there own product. My only point is that there is a price to unchecked immigration. I have no link, but I have read that over 1/3 of California's prison population consists of illegal immigrants. Why can't we quadruple the state dept. staff in Central America and Mexico to facilitate high levels of legal immigration while tightening the borders to control the smuggling and also slow down the criminal element? My hardest working and most reliable employees are immigrants of somewhat questionable legality, and they are certainly not Canadian.

Posted by: Pat H at March 5, 2005 11:46 AM


By definition, people who use drugs are irresponsible.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 12:07 PM


Because we don't want to spend the money prevention would cost.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 12:09 PM

Then let them pay the price of that irresponsibility and if that price is high enough they will become responsible.

By your standard, outside of a few Mormon single-wife families, pretty much nobody is responsible. I consume copious amounts of food and, when there is no prospect of my driving, I feel no compunction about drinking gallons of booze. Does that make me irresponsible?

Posted by: Bart at March 5, 2005 12:12 PM


Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 12:16 PM

Not at all. I've just made a different risk assessment from yours. Once I have decided not to put others at risk, I've reached the limit of what I owe those other people. If I choose to spend my Saturday, watching a Met exhibition game, eating some homemade shrimp with lobster sauce and drinking a 1.5 liter bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, that is not a matter of responsibility once I'm indoors, off the streets, not behind the wheel of my car.

It may not be your choice but it is not an illegitimate or irresponsible one.

Posted by: Bart at March 5, 2005 12:35 PM

Why does it not surprise me at all that Bart drinks gallons of booze?

Posted by: Vince at March 5, 2005 12:51 PM

Yes, it is. And you are our responsibility.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 12:53 PM

the optimum life is one of balance. drinking excessively is unbalanced but so is not drinking at all. put me in the .750L of wine column :)

Posted by: cjm at March 5, 2005 2:33 PM

If I am not costing you money, in fact quite the opposite if my tax returns are any indication, how do I become your responsbility?

Keep in mind that Hitler was a teetotaler and a vegetarian.

Posted by: Bart at March 5, 2005 3:04 PM


Because God, strange as it seems to everyone, Created you in His Image.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 5:47 PM


Posted by: Bart at March 5, 2005 5:55 PM

So you matter to us, even if not to yourself. You have no right to squander your dignity.

Posted by: oj at March 5, 2005 11:04 PM

I'll keep that in mind before I send in my next quarterly protection(oops IRS) payment.

Dignity relates to how we carry ourselves around others, not our private behavior. If I choose, in the privacy of my own home, to put on a pair of pink bunny slippers and sing Bab Marley songs to the dog, while overindulging in adult beverages,that is my business, and my business alone.

Posted by: Bart at March 6, 2005 7:23 AM


But you sure do like to tell us all about your so-called private business, don't you? You remind me of the Hollywood starlet who can't stop dashing to the nearest microphone to tell us how mean the press is and how she needs her privacy.

A vice is no less a vice because you boast to one and all about it what fun it is. What are you looking for, points for sincerity?

Posted by: Peter B at March 6, 2005 8:55 AM

The point again is quite simple, Peter. We are all individuals and rather than trying to hammer ourselves into conformity with someone's idea of what's appropriate or not, we should be allowed to live our lives as we see fit, no matter how weird that manner of living might seem to others, so long as we do not cause harm to our neighbors. It is precisely there where my objections to both the theocrats and the socialists lie.

Whatever happened to 'the government that governs best, governs least?'

Posted by: Bart at March 6, 2005 2:42 PM

No we aren't. We are all Created in God's Image and He's told us what is required of us. Morality precedes government and government exists to enforce conformity to it.

Posted by: oj at March 6, 2005 2:58 PM


Don't you realize that your whining about how life should be makes you look like an immature teenager.

Posted by: Vince at March 6, 2005 3:05 PM


That is religious totalitarian nonsense, not anything to do with American constitutionalism. It makes the only important difference between you and al-Qaeda, the fact that you haven't blown yourself up yet.

Government is the creation of men to order their affairs in some rational manner. It is a means of organizing ourselves against the predations of others or against those of the members of the group and that's it. Anything else intrudes on the sphere of individual liberty. In any society, but especially a diverse one like ours, that means that the scope we leave to government is small, and that which we leave to the individual is large.


This is hardly whining. More like bemused commentary. I do not render opinions how people should live their lives, I only wish to avoid having people use government to compel me to live my life in ways they wish in matters that are no legitimate concern of theirs. It's a narrow and simple issue, but an important one.

Posted by: Bart at March 6, 2005 3:34 PM


No, as the Founders said over and over, the Republic depends on a virtuous citizenry to succeed and is merely a means to the end of securing liberty, not a license for freedom.

Posted by: oj at March 6, 2005 4:32 PM


No, how you treat yourself is the dignity you demonstrate for others to see. Ask the next ten people you talk to that you know if they associate the idea of dignity with you.

Posted by: oj at March 7, 2005 8:53 AM