Securing the Northern Border - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Securing the Northern Border

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Drug arrests in oil producing counties increased by 40 percent in one year.

That's according to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's crime report for 2013 released earlier this summer.

Jennifer Kleen tells us how federal officials who toured the area today believe that number could be reduced starting at the Northern Border.

Law enforcement officers are chasing the ideal for fighting crime in Western North Dakota.

$16.6 million was invested in law enforcement grants last year.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem will be requesting $20 million next legislative session as well as positions for at least seven specialized agents, and more help is needed.

(Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota) "We are going to have a huge federal presence in Williston, as a regional reach, not only for North Dakota but going into Eastern Montana. The first step in solving a problem is recognizing you have it. We've done that. Now the question is how do we build our resources."

National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli responded to growing concerns about drug trafficking on the Canadian - U.S. border.

(Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General) "It seems that the southern border gets all the attention and we ignore the fact that there are drugs and human trafficking that is transferring across the northern border of this country as well."

(Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota) "Border protection is a lot like a balloon, if you push on one area, that relaxes the top. And that's really what I think we need to prevent when we look at border security and border protection."

Botticelli says the Administration's 2014 National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy specifically mentions emerging threats in the Bakken and aligns with other border patrol policies on the southwest and Carribean borders.

He says the procedures weigh heavily on information sharing and counter drug efforts with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement along the border.

(Michael Botticelli, Acting Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy) "We are tremendously confident that by building on our strong history and our shared commitment with our Canadian partners, we will succeed in reducing cross-border illegal drug trafficking."

(Tim Purdon, U.S. Attorney) "I don't think there's anything less at stake, when you think about the idea that the cases I mentioned earlier involved outlaw motorcycle groups, they involved Mexican cartels, they involved urban street gangs relocating from California to Dickinson. I don't think there's anything less at stake as we go about our business over the next few years, than our way of life in our home towns in Western North Dakota."

Senator Heitkamp says this is the second time in just over a year that the National Drug Control Policy Director has visited the state and it's important to see the challenges first hand.

(Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota) "These visits matter. What they see on the ground matters."

She says protection at the northern border is one more step toward securing the Bakken.

In Minot, Jennifer Kleen, KX News.

Heitkamp and Botticelli also discussed the need for behavioral health services for those who need treatment instead of incarceration.

 

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