The U.S. has a list of nine Mexican cartels to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

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Skyrocketing fentanyl overdoses in the U.S. and the latest high-impact attacks against Americans on Mexican soil have again led to demands that the U.S. designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations.

Several congressional Republicans are behind the push.

They say designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations would give U.S. authorities the tools they need to take them down.

It may seem to be a simple designation. But it is anything but that.

Here’s what representatives from each side, and the experts who study the issue, are saying:

‘Cartels in our crosshairs’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, joined by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., tells reporters he wants to introduce legislation to combat Mexican cartels and gangs after four Americans on a trip to Matamoros were caught in a shootout, leaving two dead and two held captive for days, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

These are the nine Mexican cartels to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations:

  1. Sinaloa Cartel
  2. Jalisco New Generation Cartel
  3. Gulf Cartel
  4. Los Zetas
  5. Northeast Cartel
  6. Juarez Cartel
  7. Tijuana Cartel
  8. Beltran Leyva Cartel
  9. La Familia Michoacana

Six Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill on March 29 called the NARCOS Act. It would add the “foreign terrorist organization” label to nine notorious Mexican cartels, including the powerhouse Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels. A similar bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives.

“Despite what the president of Mexico says, drug cartels are in control of large parts of Mexico,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a prepared statement.

“They are making billions of dollars sending fentanyl and illicit drugs into the United States, where it is killing our citizens by the thousands. Designating these cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations will be a game-changer. We will put the cartels in our crosshairs and go after those who provide material support to them, including the Chinese entities who send them chemicals to produce these poisons.”

China, and more recently, India, are sources of “precursor” chemicals used by drug cartels to produce fentanyl and methamphetamine for shipment north of the border.

The terrorist designation would give law enforcement and prosecutors more power to freeze cartel assets and deny their members entry to the U.S., Graham’s office reported. It would also open the door to charging those who support a terrorist organization.

Mexican leaders have said it would violate Mexico’s sovereignty and lead to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between the nations.

Source: Senate.gov

The Mazatlan Post