Cablegate: U.S.-Canadian Cooperation in Stopping Gun

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU/NF) Summary: A spate of gang-related killings in
Toronto has left Ontario Premier McGuinty and Toronto Mayor
David Miller under pressure to act. McGuinty shifted the
focus from the internal problems with gangs in Toronto to the
notion that many of the guns used in the killings originated
in the United States, raising this to a broader national
profile. At their August 11 meeting in Banff, the Ambassador
reviewed with McGuinty what we are currently doing on the
issue of gun trafficking, discussed U.S. proposals that
require Canadian assistance to implement, and offered to hold
further discussions of what we can do in the future. Embassy
law enforcement team, in coordination with ConGen Toronto,
has developed several ideas that can be coordinated with
Canadian law enforcement to help stem the flow of guns. All
of our law enforcement experts agree, however, that as long
as small guns can be concealed in glove boxes or suitcases
and simply driven across the border, we will only succeed in
stopping the
flow of guns on the margins. End Summary.


2. (SBU/NF) Both the number and the type of killings has
gotten the attention of Toronto's citizens and political
leaders. Two men were gunned to death in Toronto last week,
bringing to 42 the homicide count for the year (Note: this is
not statistically higher than 2003). The past two weeks were
particularly deadly -- with five killed and 11 injured in 14
separate shootings in Toronto. One of these sent a four-year
old boy to the hospital with four bullet wounds, another
scattered a crowd in a downtown square, a third killed a man
at random during a birthday party, and a fourth killed two
Somali immigrants as they exited a night club.

3. (U) Ontario politicians have been criticized for not doing
enough to stop the killings and in turn they have tried to
move attention south. In addition to extensive coverage in
most dailies throughout the week, MacLean's cover story this
week is "American Guns, Canadian Violence, Inside a Deadly
Gun-Running Epidemic." Toronto Mayor David Miller called the
Prime Minister's Office August 8 to request help stemming the
flow of guns from the U.S. Miller reportedly told federal
officials that half the guns used to commit crimes in Toronto
come from the U.S., a figure that has been shared with us by
other Canadian law enforcement officials, although the source
is not clear. Miller has also conceded that clearing up the
availability of guns is not an easy task, given the ease of
crossing the border with a handgun and the various ways guns
come to Canada, such as Canadians returning from vacation.

4. (SBU/NF) Senator Colin Kenney, Chair of the Senate
Committee on National Defense and Security, penned an op-ed
for the Globe and Mail in which he states that "roughly half
the guns used in Canada's street crimes are smuggled over the
border. That's where we must draw the line." He then
outlined a number of practical measures that Canada could
implement to better stop guns from crossing the border.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory, typically
a law and order politician, focused on the social and
economic conditions that produce gang violence, and made
several high profile visits to the neighborhoods where the
shootings occurred. (Note: Political Analyst Bruce Campbell
told Poloff that the killings are largely confined to
Jamaican gangs, and they are somewhat seasonal. He does not
expect the pace of killings to continue. End Note)


5. (SBU/NF) Premier McGuinty spoke out on the issue of cross
border gun flow on August 9 from Banff, saying he had been
informed by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair that fully half
the guns on Toronto's streets come from the U.S, and that he
would press the Ambassador on the issue when they met the
next day. McGuinty used the same tactic that works so well
with the PM, whom he often publicly chastises for not doing
enough for the province, thus setting himself up to wrest
concessions when they meet. He said "I'm hopeful that this
time round he'll be more receptive to expressing, first of
all, some sensitivity to the issue and a desire to help and,
more than that, an eagerness to lobby Washington to
participate in joint activities to help us restrict the
number of American guns that are ending up in Canadian
streets." In fact the issue of guns did not come up in the
Ambassador's first meeting with McGuinty.

6. (SBU/NF) Ambassador Wilkins met McGuinty in Banff on
August 11 on the margins of the Council of Federations summit
of premiers. The Ambassador took the opportunity to correct
McGuinty on some of his press statements regarding his
interest in discussing the issue, and suggested that if
McGuinty continued to publicly blame the U.S. for the
problem, he would have to say that the real issue is Canadian
citizens who are breaking U.S. laws by buying guns illegally
there and then breaking Canadian laws by bringing them back
to Canada. He then reviewed all we are doing to work with
both provincial and national Canadian authorities on the
problem, and stressed the need to finalize an MOU with the
RCMP on electronic tracing and access to our ballistic
identification system, both pending GOC approval. McGuinty
said he was surprised to hear how much was already taking
place, and would in the future couch the issue in terms of
shared responsibility, rather than shifting all the blame to
the U.S. (Septel will cover
Ambassador's meeting with Toronto Law Enforcement officials
on July 27).

7. (SBU/NF) The meeting was extremely fruitful in reducing
the rhetoric surrounding the issue. In meeting with press
later in the day, McGuinty said he was impressed by the
Ambassador's knowledge of the issue and his "sensitivity
about our desire to establish and maintain a different kind
of gun culture than they have south of the border." Mcguinty
talked several times of the "shared responsibility" for
managing the problem. He went on to frame the issue in terms
of the extremes of getting the U.S. Congress to ban handguns
south of the border and searching each and every vehicle
coming across the border, both unrealistic. Instead,
McGuinty said, "we have to find a way to share more
intelligence, to beef up our human resources at the border in
order to ensure that we are being more effective, more
proactive when it comes to capturing smuggled guns at the


8. (SBU/NF) According to U.S. statistics, in calendar year
2004 Canadian law enforcement submitted 1,135 firearm trace
requests to the ATF National Tracing Center (down from the
1327 trace requests submitted in 2003). This is not the
total number of firearms seized throughout Canada, but rather
those believed to be of U.S. origin. The ATF Crime Gun
Analysis Branch reports that 69% of firearms submitted for
tracing in CY2004 were identified as U.S.-sourced. The top
five states of origin were Washington (70), Texas (60),
Florida (55), Ohio (59), and Indiana (36). The top five
provinces submitting firearms trace requests were: Ontario
(521), British Columbia (179), Quebec (142), Alberta (133),
and Manitoba (68). Of importance, the median length of time
from the first retail purchase to when the firearm was seized
by law enforcement was 7.4 years. The two key law
enforcement bodies in Canada which deal with guns are the
Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit (PWEU) in Ontario, and
NWEST, a branch of the RCMP.

9. (SBU/NF) Three recent investigations are indicative of the
range of cooperation we have with Canada in dealing with gun
smuggling. In November 2004 ATF agents initiated a firearms
trafficking case based on multiple sales information
submitted by local guns stores in Indiana. Through the
course of the collaborative investigation between the PWEU
and ATF, six arrests have been made since April 2005. It is
now known that 95 guns were trafficked by these individuals
for gangs in Canada. In a second case, surveillance of a
target buying multiple firearms in Georgia and then traveling
to Michigan led to collaboration with the PWEU. The
individual was stopped crossing into Canada and a large sum
of money discovered, and later investigations led to the
recovery of eight firearms in Windsor, Detroit. In March
2005 a firearm was seized during the execution of a search
warrant in British Columbia. A trace conducted by NWEST
through the ATF National Tracing Center revealed that the
individual had bought multiple weapons and made multiple
trips to Canada in the preceding six months. The individual
was picked up while crossing the border and arrested with
five firearms.


10. (SBU/NF) A number of ideas have surfaced in the past
week of things Canada could do to improve its ability to
control the gun flow. Senator Kenney recommends the

-- Increase staffing at the borders, improve training for
border guards, arm Canadian border guards, put RCMP officers
on the border, and conduct more frequent searches. (Note:
others, such as the Customs and Excise Union -- Ceuda -- have
also come out strongly in favor of arming Canadian border
-- Raise the personal exemption limit for customs duties
in order to allow border personnel to focus less on
collecting taxes and more on finding guns.
-- Consider closing some of the 139 ports of entry on the
northern border.
-- Provide better access to criminal data bases for border
personnel and improve access to intelligence for all border

11. (SBU/NF) MacLean's suggests that Canada increase
sentences for both Canadians and Americans who cross the
border with a gun, a crime that currently bring a fine as low
as $300 or $400. It also suggests that Ottawa "broaden its
successful experiment with special, bi-national police units"
such as IBETs. "They've been effective, experts say, in
gathering intelligence and cracking smuggling rings before
guns reach the streets." A third idea from MacLean's is that
Ottawa should press the U.S. to strengthen stateside action
against gun smugglers in exchange for harmonizing immigration
and entry laws to address U.S. concerns. Some suggest making
gun-smuggling a "keystone issue in talks to create a
continental security perimeter," and former Ambassador to
Washington Allan Gottlieb sees the formation over time of
"bilateral border institutions."


12. (SBU/NF) ATF offices from Ottawa and Toronto, together
with ICE Toronto, met with PWEU and RCMP officials on August
9 to discuss ways to improve coordination on gun smuggling.
Embassy Law Enforcement Working Group met to discuss the
issue on August 10 and has begun to develop a list of things
we can do to close gaps and advance the issue.

13. (SBU/NF) Law Enforcement experts here believe that as
long as guns are easily available in the United States and
there is a lucrative market for them in Canada, there will be
a flow of illegal weapons across the border that will be
virtually impossible to fully shut it down. We developed the
following list of issues that could help to improve our
cooperation with Canada, and on the margins, would slow down
the flow of guns. This is a non-paper which ConGen Toronto
will share with Premier McGuinty when cleared, and to use for
the basis of further discussions with the Government of
Canada on the topic.


14. (SBU) Begin proposed non-paper:

Current Cross Border Gun Control Cooperation:

-- The U.S. and Canada have long-standing and very close
cooperation on a full range of law enforcement and border
control issues, to include the illegal trafficking of weapons.
-- The U.S. currently has an Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearms (ATF) agent and an Inspector in Ottawa, and a second
agent in Vancouver, as well as a team of Department of
Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents
in Toronto, who work with the RCMP and the Provincial Weapons
Enforcement Unit of Ontario to help coordinate with Canadian
officials our joint efforts to stem the illegal trafficking
of weapons across the border. The RCMP also has liaisons in
Washington who facilitate information sharing from the U.S.

-- Cooperation in gun control is largely channeled through
the Cross Border Crime Forum's Firearms Trafficking
Consultative Group, where officials from both countries meet
frequently to devise common strategies for stemming the flow
of illegal guns.
-- In response to increasing concerns about gun
trafficking, on August 9 representatives of ATF, DHS/ICE,
PWEU, and the RCMP met in Toronto to explore new ways to
approach the issue.
-- Since January 2003, DHS/ICE has investigated 42 cases
of firearms being illegally exported to Canada.
-- We have developed a system which electronically allows
the PWEU to access the ATF National Tracing Center, allowing
them to conduct traces of weapons that are confiscated during
-- ATF conducts joint training with the PWEU and NWEST
specific to illegal firearms trafficking. Specific courses
are Illegal Firearms Trafficking, upcoming course scheduled
for November 2005 in British Columbia, Serial Number
Restoration Course, as well as Firearms Identification and
Tracing Course. The U.S. also has provided training for
Canadian police officials on gang cases and organized crime.
-- ATF hosts Canadian law enforcement at ATF's HQ,
National Tracing Center, and National Firearms Laboratory to
help them gain a better understanding of ATF assets. On
August 23, 2005, the ATF attach will accompany the Officer
in Charge of PWEU, the Firearms and Tracing Enforcement
Coordinator of PWEU, and the Director, Criminal Intelligence
Services Ontario to Washington, DC.

Pending Approval by Canada

-- ATF and RCMP are in the process of creating an MOU
which will electronically link the respective agency's
ballistics identification system. Once established, this
link will allow bullets and casings found at crime scenes and
captured from seized firearms to be compared with this same
type of data which was previously uploaded into each agency's
system. It is believed that this MOU will help identify and
target illegal firearms traffickers as well as help solve
firearms related violent crimes.
-- We have a joint working group which is sharing
information on ballistic technology. Working group has
developed technical security requirements and awaits RCMP to
implement these requirements prior to linking the two systems
electronically for faster checks.

Future Cooperation

-- ATF will be adding an assistant attach to work in
Toronto in the coming weeks. Our ATF attachs help run
traces of guns that have been seized during the commission of
a crime and submitted for tracing by Canada law enforcement
in an attempt to identify firearms traffickers. When
identified, the investigation is conducted jointly between
ATF and Canadian law enforcement officials. This effort, in
conjunction with ICE agents already working firearms export
investigations in Toronto, will bolster U.S. efforts in this
-- We would like to meet with federal and provincial
officials under the Cross Border Crime Forum to explore any
specific ideas that Canada has on where we better collaborate
to limit the flow of guns.
-- In an effort to stem the flow of the illegal export of
weapons from the United States to Canada, the ICE Attache
Ottawa proposes Project Gun Runner. Project Gun Runner would
be a joint operation coordinated with the RCMP, CBSA, ATF and
CBP. It would involve focusing traditional investigative
methods to develop information that could identify vehicles
associated with individuals, businesses, and organizations
potentially involved in the illegal transportation of weapons
to Canada.

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