Cablegate: Themes From the 10th Cross-Border Crime Forum

DE RUEHOT #0635/01 1291153
P 081153Z MAY 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: At the 10th Cross-Border Crime Forum, 120
participants led by the U.S. Attorney General and the
Canadian Ministers of Public Safety and Justice reviewed
progress in eight areas, received a threat assessment, and
discussed lessons learned from three case studies. From
Mission Canada's perspective, the issues that deserve the
most further attention are: information and intelligence
sharing; further development and synchronization of cross
border law enforcement architecture (IBETs); finalization of
Shiprider agreement; exploration of what principles of
Shiprider could apply to land enforcement models; increased
placement of liaison officers to enhance information sharing
and joint operational effectiveness; and cross border weapons
carriage. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------

2. (SBU) The Cross-Border Crime Forum (CBCF) met March 18-19
in Quebec City under the leadership of U.S. Attorney General
Michael Mukasey, Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell
Day, and Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. (DHS
Secretary Michael Chertoff was unable to attend at the last
minute.) The principals attended on March 19, following a
day of working level talks. Richard Wex, Assistant Deputy
Minister of the Policing, Law Enforcement, and
Interoperability Branch of Public Safety Canada, and Bruce
Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the U.S.
Department of Justice's Criminal Division, opened the
working-level meeting on March 18 by reviewing the progress
since the first CBCF in 1997. The CBCF started as a very
limited forum dealing primarily with contraband and
telemarketing fraud in the East, but has now expanded into an
inter-agency forum to address counterterrorism, mass
marketing fraud, human trafficking, organized crime, border
enforcement, drug trafficking, and firearms violations. It
also examines how to improve the architecture of cross-border
law enforcement cooperation in areas such as prosecutions and


3. (SBU) Wex and Swartz cited a number of successes from the
Forum, including:

-- enhanced understanding of shared challenges (drugs,
firearms, human trafficking, organized crime assessments);
-- joint action plans to address shared threats;
-- identification of best practices and venue for sharing
lessons learned;
-- improved operational collaboration and strengthened
networking, with Swartz highlighting Shiprider as a model for
close U.S.-Canada cooperation and the integration of
cross-border law enforcement efforts; and,
-- joint public outreach on key issues such as phishing and
identity theft.


4. (SBU) Wex and Swartz highlighted a number of lessons
learned from the CBCF over the past decade. First, political
leadership must provide clear direction and offer leverage
Qleadership must provide clear direction and offer leverage
and resources to implement its decisions. Second, input from
front-line field officers is essential to keep the CBCF's
work relevant. Third, there is a broad array of interests
represented and the agenda must reflect the shared priorities
of all parties. Fourth, the CBCF must have continuity in its
core organization along with sufficient adaptability through
ad hoc groups to deal with specific issues as they arise.


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5. (SBU) The co-chairs laid out their vision of the
challenges the CBCF faces in order to stay relevant:

-- how to manage front-line expectations?
-- how to resolve cross-border impediments while respecting
both countries, legal frameworks?
-- how to identify appropriate partners on complex issues
involving multiple jurisdictions and mandates?
-- how to ensure the appropriate legislative and policy
framework supports operational collaboration? and,
-- how develop a shared vision among the partners?

6. (SBU) The group also discussed whether the CBCF is fully
integrated with other similar fora, and how best to leverage
the work of other groups to inform its work. Significantly,
participants discussed how to continue to adapt the CBCF,
especially the composition of its sub-groups, to meet the
changing realities of cross-border law enforcement.


7. (SBU) The various sub-groups described their work over the
past year. The Prosecution Sub-Group (PSG) highlighted the
core challenge of lining up the two countries' legal systems
in order to make the MLAT and extradition processes work
efficiently and effectively. The PSG continues to work to
improve these processes. The PSG is also developing a more
streamlined process for obtaining third-party records in a
timely manner. Working Guides explaining the MLAT process in
Canada and in the U.S. were available in paper and CD-ROM
formats for distribution at the CBCF, for use as a training
tool for prosecutors and investigators on both sides of the
border. The PSG is preparing a working guide to explain the
process for obtaining Internet Service Provider records in
the U.S. Finally, the PSG is revising its work plan, with a
renewed focus on concerns relating to the extradition process
between Canada and the U.S., and encouraging broader
participation in the workings of the subgroup and enhanced
opportunities for consultation on issues of concern.


8. (SBU) The sub-group completed and released a report on
mass marketing fraud with five year trends, which it made
available at the meeting. It will receive broader
distribution (especially in Canada) after translation into
French. The sub-group issued a joint public advisory on
counterfeit checks, which has a different focus than the
joint advisory on counterfeit checks released at CBCF 9.
U.S. co-chair Jonathan Rusch pointed out the importance of
fraud surveys as an analytical tool; one participant pointed
to this area as one of the "real triumphs" of the CBCF. The
subgroup cited several challenges for the future, including:

-- harmonizing strategies and ensuring a commitment to
interagency enforcement;
-- synchronizing seizure and forfeiture procedures for
proceeds of crime;
-- improving information sharing (especially better methods
of face to face info sharing); and,
Qof face to face info sharing); and,
-- coordinating training more and improving cross-border
training techniques.


9. (SBU) The co-chairs reviewed progress to date on the issue
of firearms trafficking. With the connection of the Ontario
Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit (PWEU) and the Canadian
National Firearms Tracing Center to the e-trace system of
ATF, some 1700 traces took place in 2007. The MOU that
Minister Day and AG Gonzalez signed at CBCF 9 linked the

OTTAWA 00000635 003 OF 008

Canadian Integrated Ballistics Information Network to the
U.S. National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, but
to date no cross-border hits have been detected because the
current system deals with a very low volume of exchanges.
The Firearms Reference Table (FRT) that the RCMP created and
shared with U.S. agencies is increasingly in use by U.S.
agencies; Interpol has adopted the FRT as a model for
identifying firearms. Finally, ATF has expanded its work
with Canadian agencies, hosting cross-border trainings,
conducting a joint awareness campaign with posters at border
crossings, and increasing its attache support in Canada with
new positions in Toronto and Vancouver. Canadian
interlocutors also cited strengthened gun laws in Canada as a
positive move to enhance cross-border gun trafficking


10. (SBU) The sub-group highlighted two cases -- Ahmed Ressam
case (Millennium Bomber, 1999) and the Charlotte Hizballah
Case (1996) -- in its publication "Best Practices in the
Development and Prosecution of Cross-Border Terrorism Cases,"
released at CBCF 10, to review lessons learned in
cross-border counter-terrorism cases. Most of the issues
raised from analyzing these cases have to do with
information-sharing between Canada and the U.S., which is
further complicated by the challenge of sharing information
between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The
publication also made a series of recommendations for future
cases, again with a special emphasis on information-sharing.
Notably, it recommended that "communications should focus on
the timely exchange of information without regard to whether
such information is of potential evidentiary value," and
urged that information exchanges should "include relevant
national security intelligence." It suggested that relevant
agencies "consider cross-border co-location of CT personnel
to promote effective situational awareness on both sides of
the border." According to one of the co-chairs, there is an
MOU in progress that would facilitate personnel exchanges
between RCMP INSETs and FBI JTTFs. The U.S. Attorney for the
Northern District of New York made the case for robust
information-sharing, stating that "seemingly insignificant
pieces of information can take on greater importance when put
together with other pieces of information." The U.S.
Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington expressed
concern that much information-sharing takes place at the SBU
level and is not as robust as it might be.


11. (SBU) The sub-group reported that it had completed a
joint comparative analysis of the similarities and gaps
between the Canada Public Safety Information Network (CPSIN)
data standards and the U.S. National Information Exchange
Model (NIEM), and had concluded that the framework of current
standards are adequate. It made recommendations for
Qstandards are adequate. It made recommendations for
developing and completing cross-border data exchanges. The
co-chairs briefed the sub-group on various pilot projects to
pursue, including several related to the 2010 Olympics in
Vancouver. Specifically, representatives will review the
range of options possible to implement a LInX pilot in the


12. (SBU) The sub-group tabled the U.S.-Canada Border Drug
Threat Assessment at CBCF 10. The co-chairs provided an
overview of the assessment,s key findings, including:
-- despite best efforts, significant drug trafficking still
occurs in both directions across the border;
-- the principal illicit substances smuggled across our
shared border are MDMA/Ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana;
-- MDMA/Ecstasy production has increased in Canada, and
there is increased availability on both sides of the border;

OTTAWA 00000635 004 OF 008

-- the U.S. is the primary transit country for South
American cocaine entering Canada and accounts for 40% of its
-- cannabis cultivation is thriving on both sides of the
border, but marijuana seizures at the border have dropped 50%;
-- both countries have significantly enhanced bilateral
cooperation on drug trafficking issues and will continue to
do so.

13. (SBU) The co-chairs also briefed the group on
assessments of the Asia-Pacific corridor of organized crime
groups and the need for a global approach to tackle a global
problem. The participants discussed the need for ongoing
personnel exchanges between the various law enforcement
organizations to ensure robust information exchanges and
better operational capacity. Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State Christie McCampbell briefed the group on the Merida
Initiative and suggested a tie-in between the work Canada is
doing in the Caribbean and the work the U.S. will be doing in
Mexico and Central America.


14. (SBU) The Border Enforcement sub-group (BEG)

underscored progress on the Shiprider initiative as the
highlight of its program this year, and a model for enhanced
land based cooperation. (Negotiations for a Shiprider
agreement commenced immediately following CBCF 10.) The
co-chairs briefed the group on the development of the
Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET), five of which
(with the recent merger of the Rocky Mountain IBET) are
co-located; the remaining ten have joint meeting space. The
IBET leadership is in the process of evaluating locations for
four IBET analysts, and has just completed a joint threat
assessment based on analysis from the IBET. The co-chairs
pointed to improving and expanding existing radio
communications and selecting the site for a one year radio
interoperability pilot project as key next steps. The group
also discussed the issue of weapons carriage by law
enforcement officers whose duties require them frequently to
cross the border, a long-standing impediment to effective
cross-border enforcement.


15. (SBU) Greg Fyffe, Executive Director of the International
Assessment Staff of Canada's Privy Council Office delivered a
speech describing the three drivers in international crime as
drugs, terrorism, and human smuggling. He emphasized that
drugs will continue to be the backbone of international and
national illegal activity by providing the huge profits that
fuel other forms of criminality, while corrupting national
institutions. Its disruption is long-term and complex, and
demand will remain consistent. Terrorism thrives on the
current breakdown of stable order, which creates safe zones
for instability, and on the multi-generational transmission
of hate, which is at the heart of international terrorism.
Fyffe highlighted the resilience of the al-Qaeda movement,
QFyffe highlighted the resilience of the al-Qaeda movement,
pointing out that after five years of aggressive
counter-terrorism operations, our success in "turning"
leaders of AQ was zero; the movement has not been seriously
degraded. Terrorism will continue to be a huge driver for a
generation. People smuggling is now part of the largest
movement of people in history, which has gone on for the past
20 years and will likely continue unabated. It establishes
routes that can also be used for other activities.

OTTAWA 00000635 005 OF 008

16. (SBU) Fyffe cited another trend that deserved attention:
gray corporations, i.e., large multinational companies --
either state-supported or tacitly allowed to function by the
state -- that are involved in criminal enterprises. They
have a certain amount of protection under the law due to
their connection to states (e.g., Russia), and are "morally
fractured," with many legitimate enterprises masking
illegitimate enterprises.

17. (SBU) Fyffe pointed to four wildcards to watch in the
future for their disruptive effect: -- pandemics that could
combine with other disasters to create large openings for
criminal enterprises;
-- energy shocks disrupting normal markets and creating
urgent new demand that criminal syndicates can fill;
-- climate change that creates water challenges and
disasters in low lying areas; and,
-- continued growth of internet use that makes cyber-crime
and cyber-penetration of national security institutions an
increasing security issue.

--------------------------------------------- ---

18. (SBU) An Ontario PWEU officer and a Toronto-based ATF
attache briefed the group on a nine-month investigation into
a firearms smuggling case as an example of how close
cooperation can disrupt and distract criminal gangs. The
gangs in the Greater Toronto Area are closely connected to
the U.S., in this case driving marijuana and ecstasy down to
Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and bringing arms and
ammunition back up to Canada. This collaborative
investigation included joint monitoring and tracking devices,
surveillance units, and drug purchases. It included
participation from ICE, ATF, PWEU, and state and local
police. The presenters pointed to the "multi-disciplinary"
(guns, gangs, drugs) and multi-jurisdictional nature of the
operation as requiring new thinking in dealing with these
kinds of crimes. They pointed to a number of investigative

-- educating counterparts on national protocols and
-- intelligence and information-sharing;
-- grand jury proceedings and new and effective tools for
sharing grand jury information;
-- GPS across the border;
-- wiretap procedures and technical specifications;
-- travel challenges; and,
-- operational issues, e.g. two different elements of
probably cause.


19. (SBU) Another multi-agency cross-border product unveiled
at CBCF 10 was the "United States-Canada Border Threat
Assessment 2007," which described several trends in
cross-border drug trafficking, including:
-- Canada becoming the largest source of its own MDMA;
-- the rise of Asian gangs as movers of drugs (primarily
MDMA and high-potency marijuana) into North America;
-- the implementation of Canada's chemical watch program;
-- increasing production of precursors in Canada for both
the Canadian and U.S. markets; and,
-- the U.S. becoming the main transit country for South
Q-- the U.S. becoming the main transit country for South
American cocaine into Canada.

20. (SBU) The study also contained a concise section of
outlooks for cross-border drug projections, including
judgments on MDMA trends, grow ops, cocaine trafficking, and
precursor chemicals.


21. (SBU) A joint team presented a second case study that

OTTAWA 00000635 006 OF 008

involved DEA, FBI, ICE, and IRS on the U.S. side, and
included participation by the Australian and New Zealand
Federal Police, the Hong Kong Police, and the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police. The case involved an organized crime group
with cells in Orange County, Vancouver, and Australia moving
precursors from Asia to Vancouver, and from Vancouver to Los
Angeles. When the case was complete, there were seizures in
eight countries including drugs, money, and property. The
briefers noted four trends that were evident during the
-- the globalization of the drug trade;
-- fusion of criminal groups;
-- increasing sophistication of traffickers; and,
-- enhanced trafficker technology.

22. (SBU) The case study sparked a discussion among
participants on how to remove barriers to effective
investigations and prosecutions, how to improve the MLAT
process, and how to enhance communications between
multi-agency and international law enforcement. Minister
Nicholson suggested that this case highlights the ability of
criminal syndicates to exploit law enforcement's
vulnerabilities in legislation, policy, and presence, and how
their loose organization allowed them to work with great
flexibility and reconstitute easily. Minister Day noted the
trend of small labs for the chemical production, and said
that, as we break up the larger operation, traffickers move
to utilize smaller labs. A DEA rep confirmed that, as state
and local laws have made super-labs more difficult to manage,
traffickers have moved to Mexico, where they utilize small
labs. From 2001 to today, there has been a 90% drop in super
labs in the United States.


23. (SBU) A final panel focused on the Joint IBET Threat
Assessment and the collective law enforcement response. The
major highlights from the Threat Assessment were that:
-- organized crime is the single largest threat encountered
at the Canada/U.S. border, with the greatest concentration of
organized crime located in large cities close to the border;
-- illegal migrants are intercepted regularly at the
Canada/U.S. border, and human-smuggling networks established
in large cities close to the Canada/U.S. border often use
smaller groups in border areas to assist them;
-- marijuana and ecstasy are smuggled into the U.S. from
Canada, while cocaine is smuggled into Canada from the U.S.,
with the quantity of marijuana and cocaine seized between the
ports of entry decreasing but the number of seizures
-- the U.S. is the primary source of firearms smuggled into
Canada, and the significant majority of all firearms seized
at Canadian POEs are personal firearms originating from the
U.S. but, overall, the number of firearms seized between the
ports of entry increased in 2006;
-- the quantity of currency (illegal proceeds) seized
between the ports of entry increased, with the amounts seized
often large and usually from couriers (most likely the
Qoften large and usually from couriers (most likely the
proceeds from illicit drug transactions);
-- a number of organized crime groups are responsible for
smuggling contraband cigarettes into Canada from the U.S.,
mainly through Native American/First Nations reserves;
-- the marine environment is particularly vulnerable, with
threats including the smuggling of narcotics, weapons,
currency, tobacco, alcohol, and people; and,
-- couriers regularly employed by organized crime groups use
all modes of transportation, including air smuggling, but
couriers increasingly use sophisticated concealment methods,
the latest technologies, and counter surveillance techniques.

24. (SBU) The panel reviewed the conclusions of the
assessment, namely:
-- IBETs have made tremendous progress in advancing
cross-border cooperation between partner agencies;
-- the continued sharing of criminal information and

OTTAWA 00000635 007 OF 008

intelligence has led to the ongoing success of IBET;
-- investigations to combat cross-border organized crime are
a critical contribution to overall national security;
-- successful intelligence-led IBET investigations displaced
criminal activity to other parts of the border, which
neighboring IBET units identified and countered; and,
-- displacement activity is not easy to predict, but
existing IBET partnerships provide the capacity to respond


25. (SBU) Coast Guard Rear Admiral Wayne Justice co-presented
on the status of the Shiprider program, which removes the
international maritime boundary as a barrier to law
enforcement by enabling seamless, continuous law enforcement
operations across the border. Shiprider represents an
integrated operational approach to maritime law enforcement
and security in shared waters (inland and coastal), not just
information and intelligence sharing. Several pilot programs
of Shiprider in the last couple of years have shown it to be
a successful model. The panel recommended that Shiprider
should be established permanently and that:
-- locations be identified to deploy Shiprider operations
using joint threat and risk assessments;
-- costs and logistical issues be assessed with establishing
permanent Shiprider teams;
-- Shiprider should be integrated within the IBET framework;
-- Shiprider should be expanded to include other law
enforcement partners.

26. (SBU) The panel concluded by stating that Shiprider
negotiations would be commenced immediately following CBCF
10, with a view of implementing a Framework Agreement in
advance of the 2010 Olympics. (The Shiprider negotiation
teams met later in the day to agree on the terms of reference
for the next day's talks, and made significant progress on
March 20 toward reaching an agreement that would make the
Shiprider program permanent -- ref A.)

27. (SBU) Deputy Assistant Attorney General Swartz noted that
there was not enough time for the presentation he had planned
with Assistant Deputy Attorney General Don Piragoff (Justice
Canada) on developing a joint legal framework to address the
many legal issues that arise within the integrated law
enforcement context. He mentioned that Shiprider would
provide a good context to start these discussions, and urged
that the respective Departments of Justice work together to
provide advice on the legal aspects of Shiprider and to
consider adapting the framework agreement to other integrated
cross-border law enforcement operations in the future. In
final comments by the Canadian Ministers and Attorney
General, Minister Day asked point blank "what is holding up
the Shiprider negotiations?" He confirmed that the program
has full political support from the Government of Canada,
which would like to see it move forward as soon as possible.

--------------------------------------------- --
Q-------------------------------------------- ---

28. (SBU) The third case study focused on a huge success for
the IBETs. The case was co-presented on the U.S. side by
U.S. Attorney in Vermont Thomas Anderson and ICE Assistant
Secretary Julie Myers. The case involved a Montreal-based
smuggling organization with links to New York City and
Boston. Several hundred illegal aliens from Pakistan, India,
and Central and South America were trafficked from Canada to
the United States (mainly through New York and Vermont)
through a scheme that involved dropping them off between
ports of entry and having them walk across the border and be
picked up on the other side by members of the trafficking
organization. The case was worked by the Stanstead/Derby
IBET with participation by the RCMP, CBP, CBSA, ICE, Surete
du Quebec, and Terretons police, as well as the U.S.
Attorney's Office for Vermont. Galdamez and his

OTTAWA 00000635 008 OF 008

co-conspirators have been indicted in Vermont for conspiracy
and alien smuggling, and their extraditions from Canada are
pending. The net result was the reduction of human-smuggling
to a trickle in this area.

29. (SBU) Discussion of the case revolved around the
emergence of one-stop shopping for traffickers, where
criminal gangs are providing housing, movement, and jobs for
trafficked persons, and the potential for terrorists to
utilize pre-existing trafficking routes to move people and
weapons. One participant pointed out the need for a better
communications forensics model and another for improved
cross-border enforcement models.


30. (SBU) In a final presentation on how to improve
enforcement between ports of entry, the presenter said that
the goal of cross-border law enforcement ultimately is to
move from "coordinated response" to "integrated response," as
exemplified by the IBET and Shiprider models. With only five
IBETs co-located and not all agencies represented and with no
overarching strategy, limitations in terms of technology, and
use of the Shiprider model only on water, however, gaps
remain. The working group suggested discussion of a
bi-national border enforcement strategy between the Ports of
Entry at CBCF 11 (in the United States; place and time to be
determined). It should answer the following questions:

-- where are the threats and gaps?
-- what intelligence and enforcement model is best?
-- how far inland can we move the maritime strategy?
-- what technical solutions are there?
-- how do we best allocate resources across the border? and,
-- what legislative and regulatory amendments are needed?

31. (U) Ministers Day and Nicholson also met separately
with Attorney General Mukasey on the margins of the Cross
Border Crime Forum (refs B and C).

32. (U) DOJ has cleared this cable.

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