GOP Lawmakers Propose Law Equating Drug Cartels With Terror Groups

Victor Westerkamp
By Victor Westerkamp
December 17, 2019Politicsshare
GOP Lawmakers Propose Law Equating Drug Cartels With Terror Groups
U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) (R) speaks as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) (L) looks on during a news conference on immigration at the Capitol in Washington, on Feb. 12, 2018 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Last week, on November 11, two Republican Senators David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced legislation that would subject foreign criminal organizations like drug cartels to sanctions similar to those used for Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

The so-called Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act, which would be an amendment of the Immigration and Nationality Act, would entail:

  • Barring organization members and their immediate families from admission to the United States.
  • Freezing their assets.
  • Seeking civil and criminal penalties against Individuals providing material assistance or resources to the organization.

GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska also sponsored the bill.

“Criminal organizations and drug cartels like the one responsible for last month’s attack in Mexico ought to be treated just like terrorist groups in the eyes of the U.S. government. This bill would help stop cartel violence by ensuring these groups—and anyone who helps them—face dire consequences for their actions,” Sen. Cotton said, according to Ted Cruz’ website.

The Trump administration harnessed a similar plan to designate drug cartels as terror organizations after the November attack, but the president recently withheld the policy at the behest of the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Conservative Review reported.

“All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations,” the president said on Twitter. “Statutorily, we are ready to do so.” However, he added, he paused the plan at the request of Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whom he called “a man who I like and respect.”

“Cartels are the worst of humanity. As we saw in last month’s horrific attack in Mexico, they terrorize innocent families and exploit children in order to fuel the drug trade and other illicit activity. These criminal organizations must face severe financial consequences for the terror they inflict in the United States and across the world. We have to put the cartels out of business once and for all,” Sen. Perdue said.

The bill would also request the president to report the findings of a Congressional investigation into the November 4 attacks in Mexico and decide whether these attacks would meet the criteria for being the work of a TCO and be dealt with accordingly.

After at least nine Americans were killed during a cartel shooting in the Mexican border state of Sonora on November 5, President Donald Trump extended an offer to help Mexico wage a “war” to eliminate drug cartels.

“If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!” Trump wrote in a Nov. 5 tweet.

A few minutes later, he added: “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!”

Three women and six children were gunned down, with others injured on Nov. 4, when cartel members attacked their vehicles on a dirt road between the states of Chihuahua and Sonora, both bordering the United States. The dead belonged to the LeBaron family, a breakaway Mormon community that settled in the hills and plains of northern Mexico decades ago.

Epoch Times reporter Petr Svab contributed to this report

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