Daines wants details on incoming Mexican meth, calls on Border Patrol to answer

Sen. Steve Daines on Wednesday urged U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to gather specific information on drug seizures at the southern border, and on what law enforcement there is doing to stem its rush into the U.S.

In a letter to Acting Commissioner John Sanders, Daines wants to know the specifics of every seizure between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2018, including the amount seized, method of transport, location of seizure and the source of its production.

A a roundtable discussion in Missoula last week, Daines heard from local and state law enforcement about the limited resources available to push back against the strengthening drug trade in Montana.

“While Congress and most of the United States has been focused on the opioid crisis that is devastating American families it is important that we do not turn a blind-eye to the effects of rising methamphetamine use,” Daines wrote in the letter, which was provided to the Missoulian on Wednesday. “Congress recently took much-needed action on the opioid crisis and I hope we can do the same with the meth epidemic.”

The time frame of Daines’ requested information is a near parallel to meth seizure statistics from the Montana Department of Justice, which reports meth-related criminal cases leaped 475% from 2011 and 2017.

Meth seizures at the border have risen from 3,930 pounds in 2014 to 11,314 pounds, Daines letter states, and CPB Office of Field Operations drug seizures have climbed from 19,613 pounds in 2014 to 56,362 pounds in 2018.

At the roundtable event, the question of proving the source was posed to Daines by Montana Public Radio. Law enforcement from Montana and the southern U.S. border, Daines responded, have traced the drugs from Montana backward to Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California and then back to the Mexican border.

In his letter, Daines also asks for:

  • “If the origin of production is known, detail the efforts of CBP, in collaboration with other U.S. agencies, to work with foreign government authorities to locate and stop production at the source.
  • “If known, the amount of methamphetamine seized that was intended for Montana.
  • “The amount and percentage of officers dedicated to methamphetamine interdiction.
  • “A description of any trends that CBP has identified that are affecting CBP’s ability to detect illicit methamphetamine shipments and how CBP adapts to meet these emerging threats.
  • “Recommendations for how Congress can help ensure that CBP has the resources necessary to stop these dangerous substances from entering our country.”

Daines letter asks Sands to return the information by May 17.

“It’s overwhelming our communities,” he told reporters last week after Missoula’s roundtable event. “Law enforcement does not have enough resources to deal with this crisis in Montana.”