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News stories tagged with "smuggling"

Human Trafficking in Our Backyard. Poster: <a href="<br />">John Eng Cheng, Inheritance Magazine</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Human Trafficking in Our Backyard. Poster: John Eng Cheng, Inheritance Magazine, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Four kinds of human trafficking in the North Country

More than 40 agencies across the North Country are coming together to fight some of the darkest underground crimes. The North Country Human Trafficking task force says smuggling rings funnel vulnerable people into forced prostitution, indentured servitude, and debt bondage. And while it's not common, it is happening here in the North Country.

The task force is holding trainings to help law enforcement, not-for-profits, and churches learn to identify victims of human trafficking. David Sommerstein attended one in Canton.  Go to full article

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Aaron Calderon, Malik McKenzie, and Sabel Bong, of SUNY Canton, prepare to march down Main Street. Photo: David Sommerstein
Aaron Calderon, Malik McKenzie, and Sabel Bong, of SUNY Canton, prepare to march down Main Street. Photo: David Sommerstein

How human trafficking happens all around us

According to a study by Hofstra University, more than 11,000 people in New York State have been victims of human trafficking since 2000. They may have been sex workers, or forcibly employed at restaurants or factories or on farms.

They're among the estimated 27 million people who are victims of human trafficking worldwide.

Several organizations this week are drawing attention to what's often called modern-day slavery. The state Department of Labor has announced a new partnership with businesses to expose illegal labor trafficking.

A handful of students from SUNY Canton held a march yesterday to raise awareness of the issue.  Go to full article
These bear paws were seized from an Asian market in Brooklyn last year (Source:  NYS DEC)
These bear paws were seized from an Asian market in Brooklyn last year (Source: NYS DEC)

New law regulates North Country trade in black bear parts for Asian markets

When black bear hunters head back into the woods this fall, they'll face new regulations that require them to document any parts of the animal that they plan to sell.

The new law went into effect this year. It's designed to help state and Federal officials crack down on black bear poaching.

It's still legal for hunters in New York to sell bear parts for use in Asian medicine and cooking, but the trade will be much more closely monitored.

Brian Mann has our story.  Go to full article
Rep. Bill Owens
Rep. Bill Owens

Lawmakers want better drug enforcement at border

Congressman Bill Owens is one of a group of lawmakers working on a law designed to slow drug trafficking from Canada into the U.S.
A bill passed by both houses of Congress calls on the Office of National Drug Control Policy to craft a multi-agency and international strategy to tighten up on drug smugglers without hurting tourism and other commercial traffic across the northern border.
Martha Foley has more.  Go to full article

Mohawks: tobacco smuggling answers lie in cooperation

Last week, the Center for Public Integrity released an exhaustive investigation on the confluence of illegal tobacco, drugs, and organized crime on the Mohawk reservations on the St. Lawrence River. Yesterday we spoke with the report's author.

Today, the Mohawks' side of things. Chiefs of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe near Massena say Canada and the United States are raising cigarette taxes without considering historic tribal rights to trade tobacco. Chief Jim Ransom says the author of the Center for Public Integrity report didn't even request an interview with tribal chiefs. The Mohawks have endured a reputation as smugglers even before tobacco companies worked with some natives to traffic untaxed cigarettes into Canada in the 1990s. This year's surprise hit film, Frozen River, has brought Akwesasne's reputation to the big screen and the nation. Chief Ransom told David Sommerstein he condemns the drug trafficking and crime that happens in Akwesasne. But he says the characterization ignores the history of oppression and environmental degradation brought on the Mohawks.  Go to full article

Report ties organized crime, drugs to Akwesasne tobacco trafficking

A new report details the billion dollar trafficking of untaxed cigarettes into Canada from the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation near Massena. The investigation by the Center for Public Integrity documented 5 to 10 unlicensed tobacco factories in Akwesasne and on the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal.

Smugglers carry cigarettes across the Canadian border and sell them in Ontario and Quebec for $20 a carton. A legally taxed carton costs $80 to $90. The Canadian government estimates it is losing $1.6 billion a year in taxes while health care costs associated with smoking are rising. William Marsden of the Montreal Gazette reported the story. He told David Sommerstein the tobacco smuggling has attracted more organized crime and drugs to an already porous region of the U.S.-Canada border.  Go to full article

Frozen River: St. Lawrence smuggling thriller early hit

A film about smuggling illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River is drawing rave reviews in its first run of screenings. Frozen River tells the story of two women, one a Mohawk from Akwesasne, who are driven by poverty and dire circumstances to smuggle a Pakistani woman and her baby across the US-Canada border. David Edelstein, who writes reviews for NPR's Fresh Air, calls the film "gripping stuff." Kenneth Turan said on Morning Edition, "Frozen River will restore your faith in American independent film." The movie won the Grand Jury Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. David Sommerstein caught up with Courtney Hunt by phone earlier this week. She says she knows the North Country because her husband is from Malone. She says it was women smugglers who really attracted her to the subject matter of Frozen River.  Go to full article

Newspaper report: smuggling surges along US-Canada border

A newspaper in Ottawa is reporting this week that illegal cigarette smuggling across the US Canada border is booming. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent on Homeland Security, critics say illegal border crossings have returned to levels not seen since the 1990s. In January alone, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized over 72,000 cartons of cigarettes. Brian Mann has details.  Go to full article
Coast Guardsmen get ready for their Waterway Watch presentation.
Coast Guardsmen get ready for their Waterway Watch presentation.

Coast Guard wants eyes on the border

If you're among the thousands of people making a splash in the St. Lawrence River this summer, the Coast Guard wants you. Its "Waterway Watch" program enlists river goers to keep their eyes peeled for suspicious activity - the kind of things a drug smuggler or potential terrorist might do. David Sommerstein went to a "training session" in Alexandria Bay and filed this report.  Go to full article

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