Organized Crime Beyond the Border

Christian Leuprecht, Todd Hataley

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


Executive Summary
On February 4, 2011, President Barak Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a strategy for new era of cooperation called Beyond the Border : A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. Although the strategy of loosening the “belt” and tightening the “suspenders” instead is widely believed to be economically advantageous for Canada, it also lends itself to ready exploitation by organized crime. Perimeter security may be good for economic competitiveness; whether it makes us any safer, by contrast, is debatable.Beyond the Border has four goals: addressing early threats; and facilitating the growth of trade, the national economies and jobs. It envisages a layered approach to border security, with the two nations working jointly to shift border functions away from the border itself to points inland. As the title suggests, a perimeter agreement between the United States and Canada defines an established security perimeter around the continent, ostensibly protecting the approaches to the region. Its premise is to push the perimeter out by means of pre-clearance for customs, reducing the need for enforcement at actual ports of entry.Like its antecedents, Beyond the Border’s purpose is diminish marginal costs of legal cross-border activity. Yet, it does little to raise the marginal costs of illicit cross-border activity. In fact, it actually risks lowering marginal costs for illicit cross-border activity which has significant implications for law enforcement. Its assessment of the resources necessary for adopting a layered security strategy in the region is deficient and does little to curb organized crime. Far from discouraging organized crime groups from crossing the Canada–US border, the streamlining processes in Beyond the Border may actually abet intra-continental organized crime. As law enforcement agencies shift their attention beyond the North American perimeter, there is potential to pay attention to those travelling within it, thereby easing the movement of organized criminals and illicit goods within North America . Organized crime groups exploit risk management models that facilitate trusted shippers. Fitting neatly into a trusted-shipper program, either by appearing as a legitimate trader or by using corrupt officials (or better yet, both), gives them the same expedited border passage afforded to legitimate businesses. Finally, Beyond the Border does not address transnational crime and related smuggling at the border point near Cornwall, Ont., which spans the Mohawk nation of Akwesasne. Without a strategy targeted specifically at this region, nefearious elements will continue to capitalize on Akwesasne’s multiplier effect on the markets of opportunity created by the differences in policy in either side of the Canada-US border.Security and economic competitiveness are at stake for both countries. However, the Americans appear to want, first and foremost, to achieve greater security, while Canadians are prioritizing economic competitiveness. Security and economic competitiveness are a false dichotomy. Paradoxically, Beyond the Border skirts Canada’s most pervasive and persistent cross-border security liability—that is, organized crime—and may even enhance its economic competitiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOntario, Canada
PublisherMacdonal-Laurier Institute
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameNational security strategy for Canada


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