FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, is introducing legislation that would designate Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) in response to the ongoing trafficking of migrants and deadly drugs in the U.S. being facilitated by those cartels.
The Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act would require the State Department to designate the Gulf Cartel, the Cartel Del Noreste, the Cartel de Sinaloa, and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as foreign terrorist organizations.
The bill would also require the State Department to issue a report on those cartels and any additional cartels that meet the criteria for such a designation.
Cartels control large sections of the southern border on the Mexican side and facilitate the smuggling of drugs, illicit cargo and illegal migrants across the border – with most migrants having to pay cartel smugglers in order to be able to cross illegally into the United States.
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The violent nature of the cartels was highlighted last week when four Americans were kidnapped during a shootout — two of whom were killed.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Roy said the kidnapping “clearly illustrates the fact that cartels are no longer just drug-running gangs.”
“They are bold enough to kidnap and kill foreign nationals in broad daylight; there is no limit to the inhumane methods they will use to achieve their ultimate end — profiting off of human suffering,” he said. “This most recent atrocity adds to the already massive human toll including 72,000 dead Americans from fentanyl poisoning, more than 1,000 dead migrants along our border, and countless human and sex trafficking victims.”
“Enough words; it’s time for Congress to act,” he said.
The State Department says that such designations “play a critical role in our fight against terrorism” and allow the U.S. to crack down on material and financial support for those groups. It is illegal for Americans to support terrorist organizations.
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Should the cartels be designated, they would join groups like ISIS and its affiliates, Al Qaeda and the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia — People’s Army currently on the list.
“It’s long past time to designate these cartels as the terrorists they are and give U.S. authorities the tools needed to take them down,” Roy said. “That’s why I started pushing the Trump administration for FTO designations during my first few months in Congress, why I introduced this legislation last Congress, and why I’m introducing it again.”
The bill has 21 co-sponsors including Reps. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., Lisa McClain, R-Mich, Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas.
Attorney General Merrick Garland recently told lawmakers that the fentanyl crisis was unleashed “on purpose” by the cartels and that he did not oppose designating cartels as FTOs although he did express concern about the potential diplomatic impact with Mexico of such designations. Garland did concede, however, that while Mexico was helping the U.S. in the fight against fentanyl smuggling, “they could be doing a lot more.”
Roy’s bill comes amid a fresh push by some Republicans for greater action against the cartels, both in light of the deaths of two Americans at the hands of cartels and the ongoing fentanyl crisis. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more deadly than morphine and is produced in Mexico with Chinese precursors.
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Multiple senators introduced a bill this week that would also designate cartels as FTOs. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham. R-S.C., called for military action against the cartels.
That sparked pushback from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who threatened to launch an “information campaign” against Republicans and falsely claimed that fentanyl is not produced in Mexico.
“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” he said. “Why don’t they [the United States] take care of their problem of social decay?”