The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report this week that showed that the vast majority of the people from which the U.S. Border Patrol seized drugs at checkpoints are U.S. citizens, and most of those seizures involved personal use quantities of cannabis.
CBP is a federal agency that operates checkpoints, where officers stop motorists and ask about immigration status, for 100 miles inland from international borders, primarily in the southwest and northern border areas. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that two out of three Americans live in an area that falls within the 100-mile zone, which includes more than 110 checkpoints.
According to Border Patrol data for the fiscal years 2016 through 2020, “Border Patrol seized drugs at checkpoints about as frequently as they apprehended potentially removable people, and most drug seizure events involved marijuana (and no other drugs) from U.S. citizens.”
In total, “there were 17,498 checkpoint apprehension events during that time period. Of the drug seizure events, 91 percent (16,315 events) involved only U.S. citizens and 4 percent (761 events) involved one or more potentially removable people.”
Of these drug seizures, “75 percent involved the seizure of marijuana and no other drugs,” the report noted. And, “the majority (about 69 percent) of marijuana seizure events at checkpoints involved the seizure of a small quantity of marijuana, including trace amounts.”
The quantity of cannabis seized at checkpoints has fallen by more than half since FY 2016, from 70,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds. (Meanwhile, methamphetamine has doubled during that time, and fentanyl has increased 8x.)
The significant number of cannabis seizures from U.S. citizens at these checkpoints isn’t a new trend, as Cannabis Wire has reported.
The GAO report notes various areas where data collection is lacking, such as how cannabis residue on paraphernalia is categorized, and concludes with seven recommendations “to strengthen checkpoint oversight and data.”