Center for Border Town Research
Smuggling Activities in the Akwesasne reserve between the US and Canada, Pierre-Alexandre Beylier

If border towns are defined by their proximity to and their links with an international border, some of them find themselves in an exceptional situation, straddling a border. It is often what happens when a border is superimposed (Pradeau, 1993), that is to say when a border is established after the settlement of a region. Therefore, the boundary ends up dividing a community that was previously united.

There are lots of examples in North America especially with native populations that lived on the continent before Europeans arrived and imported the European concept of borders. It is the case of the Akwesasne reservation, which is in a very specific situation, straddling the Canada/US border.

Divided by an international border but also by an inter-provincial boundary (between Ontario and Quebec), this community is at the crossroads between different jurisdictions, which, along with its cross-border dimension, makes it an easy gateway for smuggling activities and more generally for organized crime.

This paper was published in “Territoires en mouvement” and it was co-written with Guillaume Poiret, who is an Associate Professor in Geography at Paris-Est University. It analyzes the issues that this cross-border community represents and also tries to carry out a statistical study to identify the profile of the criminals arrested at the border (age, gender, city of origin), who are taking advantage of the jurisdictional flaws that this reserve represents.

Link to the article (in French only) :