June 8, 2009
Continuing a strategy focused on the supply side of the drug problem, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled its counternarcotics policy for the Southwest, calling for greater investment in technology to intercept drug shipments over the U.S.-Mexico border. The report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy called upon federal agencies to modernize airborne sensors and improve tracking devices that can be hidden in illegal shipments. It also called for improved non-lethal technology to stop vehicles and to detect tunnels used to smuggle drugs under the border.
[efoods]The report follows an earlier announcement by the administration to put 450 more agents on the border and the development of new x-ray machines and screening technology for license plates. The administration has asked for $350 million to speed up a three-year, $1.4 billion commitment to stop drug trafficking from Mexico.
The plan was met by criticism from representatives on Capitol Hill and advocates calling for changes in drug policy. Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was “disappointed that it does not call on Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to resolve their long-standing turf battles over drug investigations.”
Julie Roberts, acting director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group promoting alternatives to the “war on drugs,” said, “It is disappointing that our federal officials today remained focused on targeting the supply side of the Mexican drug war. We also need to develop a public health plan for safely reducing drug demand in this country.”