To fight Mexican drug cartels, we must designate them Foreign Terrorist Organizations

Mexican cartel
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Mexican cartel

Beheadings on camera. Human beings dissolved in sulfuric acid. Bodies hacked to pieces and strewn along the highway. Innocent people left for dead in the street.

I am not describing ISIS or al-Qaeda, but rather what is happening across many portions of our shared border with Mexico as drug cartels battle with various Mexican governments for operational control. The widening influence of drug cartels is an ongoing reality, with near daily episodes reminding us they will use any means necessary to gain power. The United States cannot afford to turn a blind eye.

Earlier this month, members of the Sinaloa drug cartel terrorized the Mexican city of Culiacán in response to the arrest of the son of infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán. Equipped with armored vehicles, heavy artillery, and explosives, cartel members attacked Mexican authorities, set fire to cars, freed over four dozen prisoners, and ravaged the city until government officials capitulated and let Guzman’s son go.

Culiacán is not an isolated incident. In August, cartel members blocked all exits to a bar in Coatzacoalcos and set it on fire, killing 26 and injuring a dozen others. Two weeks ago, members of the Cartel Jalisco New Generation, one of Mexico’s most powerful organized criminal groups, gunned down 13 Mexican police officers in cold blood for allegedly protecting a rival gang. Gunmen just killed nine U.S. citizens–three women and six children, including twin six-month-old babies.

We could talk about the nine bodies Mexican authorities found hanging from a bridge in August and the seven other bodies they found hacked to pieces in a nearby ditch. We could talk about the former attorney general of Mexico’s state of Nayarit who admitted to conspiring with a drug cartel operating in his home state to smuggle thousands of kilograms of narcotics into the US. We could talk, or we could actively do something to address the ongoing war across our border.

Folks in Washington are always concerned with what is going on overseas in places thousands of miles away from our country, but when it comes to the narco state run by criminal organizations just across our southern border, they willingly look the other direction.

I’ve stood with Border Patrol agents in the early morning hours listening to the crack of bullets as cartels battle just across the Rio Grande. I’ve watched the ransom tapes these criminal groups send to migrant families of cartel members beating their loved ones to within an inch of their lives. I’ve watched the smoke rising from the “burn pits,” that agents have told me cartels use to dispose of the bodies of their victims. It is clear to the those paying attention that cartels have control, which endangers the U.S., Mexico, and the migrants who seek to come here both legally and illegally.

President Trump was right earlier this week to call for an all-out assault on the cartels. Aside from terrorizing the people and the sovereign government of Mexico, these cartels make billions of dollars trafficking human beings and drugs into the United States. They’ve learned that moving human beings is more profitable than moving narcotics in many instances, despite the fact that Mexican cartels have moved 1.15 million pounds of drugs, that we know of, in FY 2019.

My colleague Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and I called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March to designate certain factions of Mexican drug cartels “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” Designating these cartel factions FTOs would make it unlawful for those providing ‘material support or resources’ to them to enter the U.S. It would prevent actual members of these cartels from entering the U.S. It would also allow Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to block cartel assets.

The United States can no longer afford to sit idly while our friends in Mexico are being overrun. Our backyard is on fire. It is time we grab the fire hose.

Roy represents the 21st District of Texas and is a member of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. 

Tags Donald Trump Mark Green Mike Pompeo

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