The 2023 Canada–U.S. Cross-Border Crime Forum (CBCF)
Ministers focused on Fentanyl/Opioids, Firearms Violence, Anti-Money Laundering/Virtual Currency, Human Smuggling, Sex Offender Travel, and Criminal Justice Reform
April 28, 2023 – OTTAWA
Canada and the United States have an enduring partnership guided by a shared commitment to security, prosperity, and advancing democratic values. Today, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino and Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti hosted Attorney General of the United States Merrick Garland and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in Ottawa, for the second meeting of the Canada–U.S. Cross-Border Crime Forum (CBCF) since it was reestablished by President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2021 Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership. The meeting allowed Ministers to assess progress on collaborative efforts to counter cross-border crime, examine how to make our communities safer, and share experiences on efforts to ensure that our criminal justice systems are fair and effective.
Building on the success of the March 2022 CBCF in Washington, D.C., as well as commitments made by Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden in Mexico in January 2023 and in Ottawa in March 2023, Ministers discussed ways to enhance collaboration in the following areas:
Fentanyl / Opioids
The opioid overdose crisis, fueled by a toxic illicit drug supply, has taken a tragic toll on communities across our countries and around the world. Canada and the United States are committed to combatting the opioid epidemic together through attacking each link of the illicit production and distribution of synthetic opioids – including by preventing the importation of illicit precursor chemicals from China and elsewhere. Efforts will build on initiatives from the Canada–U.S. Opioids Action Plan and the newly established Trilateral Fentanyl Commission. To this end, Ministers instructed their officials to expand intelligence sharing to support interdictions and investigations, counter transnational organized crime, build a global coalition against synthetic drugs, disrupt the supply chain by identifying chemical and equipment diversion, address illicit finance, and engage with Canada and U.S.-based chemical, lab equipment, and shipping companies.
They also confirmed the importance of considering all available options for reducing demand, improving health outcomes, and saving lives.
Reducing Firearms Trafficking and Violence
Both Canada and the United States share a strong commitment to combatting firearms violence. To keep our communities safe, Ministers emphasized ongoing actions to address the smuggling of firearms across our shared border. Noting recent success on coordinated firearms investigations, Ministers plan to deepen cooperation in tackling gun violence in several key areas, including timely and actionable information sharing, investigations and enforcement.
In particular, Ministers decided to continue advancing both domestic and bilateral efforts to reduce firearms violence – including through the Cross Border Firearms Task Force (CBFTF) – to trace and seize guns used in crime, disrupt cross-border firearms smuggling, and to identify and target shippers and receivers through the coordination of joint operations and investigations. Ministers also decided to advance collaborative work related to stemming the proliferation of privately manufactured firearms (“ghost guns”) and strengthen cooperation with state, provincial, Indigenous and tribal partners.
In addition, they highlighted the Memorandum of Understanding between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), signed in March 2023; as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), signed in November 2022. These arrangements will be pivotal in helping both countries interdict firearms and drugs through enhanced information sharing.
Anti–Money Laundering / Virtual Currency
Money laundering threatens the integrity and stability of the financial sector and broader economy, and harms citizens’ safety, security, and quality of life.
Ministers took note of how quickly and easily criminals can move the proceeds of serious crimes across our borders in the form of virtual currencies, and the challenges that this growing phenomenon presents to our law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Increasingly, virtual currencies are being used illicitly to fund the smuggling of fentanyl, other narcotics, human beings, and firearms, as well as to launder the proceeds of these criminal activities, as documented in a recent Financial Action Task Force report that our officials were instrumental in supporting.
Through joint efforts, Canada and the United States can provide actionable information to law enforcement, regulators, and the private sector on both sides of the border. Ministers called on officials to explore additional opportunities to collaborate on countering the criminal use of virtual currencies.
Canada and the United States share the world’s longest undefended border and are committed to maintaining its integrity. Both countries recognize that it will take a concerted, unified effort to counter the cross-border human smuggling that is occurring in both directions across our shared border and undermining both countries’ legal immigration systems. All too often, these incidents result in tragic outcomes, as individuals lose their lives attempting to cross between ports of entry in remote areas or under dangerous conditions.
Ministers called on their officials to work with other agencies and external partners, including cross-border communities, to strengthen efforts to gather and share information for the detection and investigation of organized crime groups and networks that engage in human smuggling and prey upon vulnerable individuals. They asked officials to review recent incidents along the border to identify opportunities to improve intelligence, detection, and interdiction to disrupt cross-border smuggling and investigate and hold accountable those involved. They recognized the importance of enhancing and leveraging sensor technology, personnel, and information-related resources, with an emphasis on timely and actionable information sharing and engagement with state, provincial, Indigenous and tribal partners in support of dismantling smuggling networks.
Sex Offender Travel
Notification of intended travel by registered sex offenders is a tool that supports a country’s ability to make informed admission decisions.
Ministers discussed foreign partner notification regarding impending cross-border travel by sex offenders, including with respect to the threshold required to permit RCMP notification of intended travel by Canadian offenders. Canada noted the introduction of legislation on April 26, 2023, to strengthen reporting and notification for registered sex offenders intending to travel domestically or internationally. The United States shared that, in 2022, the Angel Watch Center, a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice’s U.S. Marshals Service, sent 4,527 sex-offender travel notifications to 130 countries, including 149 notifications to Canada.
Both countries re-committed to ensure law enforcement officials in both countries have the information necessary to make informed admission decisions and continue to work on other measures to ensure public safety in accordance with their respective laws.
Criminal Justice Reform / Access to Justice
Ministers discussed criminal justice reform, as well as each country’s ongoing efforts to address root causes of crime and implement effective, equitable, and inclusive approaches to promoting community safety, criminal justice, and law enforcement. They noted the importance of continuing our work regarding groups already overrepresented in the criminal justice system, to guard against reversing the strong progress made on this front.
They welcomed the outcome of the collaboration of their respective Access to Justice Offices over the past year on strategies to overcome systemic inequality and discrimination, as part of efforts to increase access to and strengthen confidence in the justice system.
They also reiterated their commitment to the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the full realization of the Sustainable Development Goal 16, promoting effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and equal access to justice for all.
In a measure that crosscuts all these discussions, Ministers also committed to develop guidance and deliver training to support a common understanding among law enforcement personnel in both countries, of the laws and policies regarding permissible information sharing for law enforcement and investigative purposes, and to encourage all appropriate sharing in service to public safety.
Finally, Ministers also signed a Statement of Partnership to Prevent, Investigate, Prosecute, and Disrupt Cross-Border Crime.
Regular updates will be provided to evaluate progress in each of these areas.
Ministers also took stock of other priority issues, including transnational repression and foreign interference, and the situations in Ukraine and Haiti. Our countries share a strong commitment to promoting democratic resilience and will continue to bolster our information sharing to combat transnational threats to democracy, including foreign interference.
Canada and the United States firmly deplore Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Canada and the United States will continue to collaborate with their allies and the international community to safeguard Ukrainian sovereignty, seize and freeze assets subject to sanctions, counter state-sponsored disinformation, and support accountability mechanisms for war crimes and other atrocities.
Ministers also reinforced their respective countries’ commitments to provide aid to Haiti to combat gang violence and shore up the Police Nationale d’Haïti. They shared their appreciation for the close collaboration among various departments and agencies to coordinate capacity building and equipment procurement efforts for the safety and security of citizens in Haiti. Both countries remain committed to exploring joint law enforcement actions in Haiti.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
Nicole Navas Oxman
Senior Communications Advisor for International Law Enforcement/Spokesperson
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Office of the Press Secretary
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