GOP lawmakers urge State Dept. to label cartels as terrorist organizations

A pair of House Republicans wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS warns airlines about flying over Persian Gulf amid Iran tensions Trump: Anonymous news sources are 'bulls---' Iranian official: Trump 'holding a gun' while pursuing talks MORE on Wednesday asking for the U.S. to label violent drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
Reps. Mark GreenMark GreenGOP rep introducing bill offering alternative Medicaid program The Hill's Morning Report - Barr stiff-arms House following Senate grilling Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — House Republican tries to force Green New Deal vote | 'Awkward' hearing to vet Interior nominee and watchdog | House panel approves bill to stop drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (Tenn.) and Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyRepublicans defend drug company in spotlight over HIV medication prices House committee approves 9.8b health, education bill DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats MORE (Texas) presented the proposal, which would apply terrorist sanctions on cartel members, third parties providing them assistance and their assets, serving to "further stigmatize these groups both at home and abroad."
"These cartels have utilized barbaric tactics including those adopted by [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS and al Qaeda – murdering and torturing innocents, destabilizing countries and assassinating members of law enforcement," Green said in a statement.
“Cartels are endangering American citizens, our Mexican neighbors, and the migrants who seek to come here. I am proud to join my friend Rep. Mark Green to urge the State Department to consider designating them as a Foreign Terror Organization,” Roy added.
Lawmakers have previously pushed to label drug cartels as terrorist organizations – Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Bipartisan lawmakers urge Trump to reconsider Central America aid cuts Lawmakers join musical stars to celebrate Grammys on the Hill MORE (R-Texas) proposed such legislation in 2012 – but this is the first such proposal since President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens MORE declared a national emergency at the southwest border.
According to the State Department, a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) must be a foreign organization that either practices or has the means to practice terrorism and "threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States."
"We believe that many drug cartels … fit the [Immigration and Nationality Act's] definition of FTO's," Green and Roy wrote Wednesday.
Roy and Green both entered office last month. Green, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, previously withdrew from consideration to serve as Army secretary in May 2017 after backlash over past statements on LGBT issues and evolution.
There are two kinds of terrorist designations, FTOs and Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). FTO designations carry stricter consequences — for instance, any member of an FTO is restricted from entering the United States — while SDGT designations only restrict entry to individuals who meet certain criteria.
Cartels are subject to many of the same restrictions as FTOs under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, as well as other laws that specifically target Colombian cartels.
Under the Kingpin Act, the Treasury Department, through its Office of Foreign Assets Control, has designated dozens of entities and individuals for similar sanctions.
Still, Green and Roy explicitly called for cartels to be labeled FTOs.
“Cartels are the problem and it is time we started acting like it. These cartels undermine our national security with a relentless attack on our border while trafficking in human beings and dangerous narcotics,” Roy said in a statement.