WASHINGTON — When Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino was here this week for a cross-border crime forum, he visited the FBI’s famed Quantico Training Academy in nearby Virginia. There he got to see J. Edgar Hoover’s Reading Room, watch a live FBI agent training session, and visit Hogan’s Alleya replica of the city where FBI agents train by enacting high-stakes scenarios.
But what he liked was a forensic lab, where he got to see a “ghost gun” in the making. “I saw, with my own eyes, a 3D printer create a gun,” he said. The printer used molten plastic to manufacture, “with laser-like precision”, the components of a firearm.
3D printing has become commonplace, but its use to make illegal firearms is, according to Mendicino, one of the biggest growing concerns for law enforcement in Canada and the United States.
“What struck me about this technology is that it is cheap first: the device itself costs only a few hundred US dollars,” Mendicino said. “Secondly, it’s fast: you can literally create these ‘ghost weapons’ in about a day or a day and a half” – and these guns are virtually unobtainable.
Gun smuggling from the United States has long been a major crime-fighting problem in Canada — and stopping it is an important part of Mendicino’s mission as cabinet minister. The change represented by 3D printing technology, with software available on the Internet making anyone with a printer a potential arms dealer, makes the task even more difficult.
“It really made me realize that this is going to be the next frontier in gun crime that we really need to work together and coordinate on,” Mendicino said.
He was discussing creation of a Canada-US Firearms Task Force to share intelligence, coordinate investigations, and “leverage new technologies specifically around tracing” to combat the smuggling of firearms across the border. Mendicino says he will tackle both traditional smuggling of handguns and assault rifles, and also consider new threats like the one he saw at Quantico. “We need this task force to coordinate these trends, so that we can solve all these problems.”
This, Mendicino said, was one of the “tangible outcomes” of the cross-border crime forum — the first series of such meetings in a decade — in which representatives from both countries discussed cybercrime, rise in potentially violent extremism (including, Mendicino said, the threat demonstrated by both the January 6 riot in the United States and the Freedom Convoy blockades in Ottawa and at the border) and terrorism , and access to justice for marginalized people.
Another one of those takeaways announced this week by US Attorney General Merrick Garland was the launch of formal negotiations on a cross-border digital data sharing agreement by coordinating the privacy laws of the two countries. The goal is to bring Canada under the U.S. CLOUD Act, which governs when digital service providers can be compelled to provide data to investigations. The United States has already entered into agreements to share this information with Australia and Great Britain
“Such an agreement, if finalized and approved, would pave the way for more effective cross-border disclosures of data between the United States and Canada so that our governments can more effectively combat serious crimes, including terrorism, while protecting privacy and civil liberties. values we both share,” Garland said in a statement announcing the news.
“We have talked about finalizing negotiations on an agreement there to ensure that we share intelligence information, but always – and I want to emphasize this – in accordance with the Charter and privacy rights, in accordance with the laws Canadian and American,” Mendicino said. “This agreement will advance our common national security interest by addressing, for example, national security threats, whether through cyberattacks, whether through terrorism, whether through illicit transfer of foreign currencies, including new unconventional currencies such as cryptocurrencies.”
Besides being able to visit interesting sites like the oft-dramatized Quantico and the US Department of Homeland Security’s “C3” cybercrime center – and, in your spare time, take a jog on the National Mall while the cherry trees were in in full bloom – Mendicino said the relaunch of the cross-border crime forum was an important step in collaboration, as outlined in the roadmap for a renewed partnership between the United States and Canada agreed to by President Joe Biden and the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early 2021. The Cross Border Crime Forum is an extremely important step in the roadmap,” he said. “It shows the determination and commitment of our two closest allies and friends, to working together to fight border crime, so that we can have trade and travel running at full speed and revive our economy. ”
In the decade since the last such meetings, crime has evolved, he says, including cybercrime, the nature of terrorist threats, the use of technology in human trafficking human beings and child exploitation, and other areas – like the “ghost gun” technology he saw demonstrated. at Quantico. “Visiting and observing this technology has really made it clear that crime is ever-changing and that governments and law enforcement must rise to the challenge of staying one step ahead,” he said. said, “and the Cross-Border Crime Forum has really allowed us to focus our energy on doing just that.
Corrigendum — March 28, 2022: This article has been edited to correct that the FBI Training Center Reading Room is named after the agency’s first Director, J. Edgar Hoover, and not Hebert Hoover, the former US President.
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