President Trump’s decision to officially designate the Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) is not only technically accurate, it is vital to end the carnage on both sides of our southern border.
Mexico has been plagued by escalating cartel aggression for nearly two decades, defying the concerted efforts of successive governments to restore order. Violence in Mexico is at an all-time high, and dozens of cartels exercise de facto control over large stretches of Mexican territory, terrorizing the citizenry and waging all-out war on the Mexican police and military.
In October, cartel members laid siege to a Mexican city in order to free the son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman from police custody. Troops from the Mexican National Guard had to stand down in order to prevent a massacre because they were outgunned and outmanned, allowing the cartel to liberate “a large group of inmates” from the local prison.
The gravity of the situation hit closer to home in November when nine American citizens were massacred by terrorists who reportedly thought the women and children were members of a rival cartel.
Just days after President Trump announced his intention to label the cartels as FTOs, Americans received another sobering reminder of the crisis on our doorstep when a Mexican town just one hour south of the U.S. border became the scene of a full-blown gun battle between cartel members and Mexican security forces, leaving 22 dead, including four police officers.
The danger posed by these militarized criminal organizations is not confined to Mexico, however. From extortion and drug smuggling to sex trafficking and murder for hire, Mexico’s crime syndicates operate sophisticated — and increasingly violent — enterprises on both sides of the border.
Trump and the GOP are the only ones in Washington who seem interested in confronting this menace. Despite the ongoing butchery in Mexico, Democrat leaders have steadfastly obstructed every proposal to secure our border and prevent cartel violence from seeping into our towns and cities.
The most visible consequence for the United States has been an influx of dangerous criminals, including members of the notoriously violent MS-13 gang, into American communities.
Trump has been eager to take decisive action against the cartels for some time, even offering to send experienced American military personnel to help the Mexican government fight the cartels — assistance that Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador roundly rejected.
Accurately slapping the cartels with the FTO label represents the next-best solution, allowing U.S. authorities to apply pressure on the cartels both at home and abroad through the American financial system.
The classification also gives domestic law enforcement more tools to protect American citizens by aggressively prosecuting cartel members and those who assist them. Significantly, gang members who distribute narcotics for the cartels inside the United States could theoretically be charged under anti-terrorism laws, opening the door to stricter punishments, such as life imprisonment.
Inexplicably, Trump and the Republican Party are the only ones in Washington who seem interested in confronting this menace. Despite the ongoing butchery in Mexico, Democrat leaders have steadfastly obstructed every proposal to secure our border and prevent cartel violence from seeping into our towns and cities.
President Trump should be commended for confronting the cartels head-on, especially since neither the Mexican government nor most Democrats in Congress are willing to take the necessary action. The cartels are terrorist organizations, and acknowledging that fact is the first step toward defeating them.