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Obama drug czar reveals border trafficking strategy

Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, speaks at a news conference Tuesday in Minot, as North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, far right, and U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Tim Purdon listen. Mike Nowatzki / Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. - The Obama administration’s drug czar stopped here Tuesday to unveil a new strategy for fighting drug trafficking across the nation’s northern border.

Michael Botticelli, the White House’s acting drug control policy director, said his visit was prompted by the emergence of drug trafficking and related crime that has accompanied development of the Bakken shale oilfields in northwestern North Dakota, northeastern Montana and southern Saskatchewan.

He was joined by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. U.S. Attorney for North Dakota Tim Purdon and North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, all of whom stressed the need for not only additional law enforcement resources but also treatment services in the Bakken region.

Botticelli planned to tour the Williston area after Tuesday morning’s press conference at the Ward County Courthouse in Minot. His predecessor, R. Gil Kerlikowske, visited oil-producing regions of North Dakota and Montana in July 2013, and the 2014 National Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy includes sections addressing drug trafficking in the Bakken oilfield region and the emerging threat posed by synthetic drugs, Botticelli said.

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Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.