Trump Says He Will Designate Mexican Cartels as Terrorists

Ivan Pentchoukov
By Ivan Pentchoukov
November 27Worldshare

President Donald Trump said he will designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups for their role in trafficking narcotics and people, prompting a speedy request for talks by Mexico.

“They will be designated,” Trump said in an interview with Bill O’Reilly aired on Nov. 26. “I have been working on that for the last 90 days. You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process.”

Cartel violence is rampant in Mexico. Earlier this month, Trump responded to the bloodiest attack on U.S. citizens in Mexico in years by offering to help the nation “wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth.”

Three women and six children of dual U.S.-Mexican nationality were killed in the ambush in northern Mexico. Mexican authorities said they may have been victims of mistaken identity amid confrontations among drug gangs in the area.

In the interview, Trump declined to say what steps he will take after formalizing the terrorist group designation.

“I don’t want to say what I am going to do, but they will be designated,” Trump said. “Look, we are losing 100,000 people a year to what is happening and what is coming through from on Mexico.”

“They have unlimited money, the people, the cartels, because they have a lot of money, because it is drug money and human trafficking money.”

Mexico’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying it would quickly seek a high-level meeting with U.S. State Department officials to address the legal designation as well as the flow of arms and money to organized crime.

“The foreign minister will establish contact with his counterpart, Michael R. Pompeo, in order to discuss this very important issue for the bilateral agenda,” the ministry said.

Once a particular group is designated as a terrorist organization, under U.S. law it is illegal for people in the United States to knowingly offer support and its members cannot enter the country and may be deported. Financial institutions that become aware they have funds connected to the group must block the money and alert the U.S. Treasury Department.

On the day before Trump’s interview aired, Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said that he did not expect the United States to designate cartels as terrorists. He said the two countries were already cooperating to fight cartels and suggested a designation was not necessary.

“I don’t think the United States will pursue this path because we’re working together, and I don’t think they would want to open up the possibility of Mexico invoking the same legal principles,” Ebrard told reporters.

Alex LeBaron, a former Mexican congressman and relative of some of the victims, on Twitter rejected the idea of a U.S. “invasion.”

“We have already been invaded by terrorist cartels,” he wrote. “We demand real coordination between both countries… both countries are responsible for the rising trade in drugs, weapons, and money.”

The LeBaron extended family has often been in conflict with drug traffickers in Chihuahua and victims’ relatives said the killers must have known who they were targeting.

Over 100 people have left the village the victims lived in since the attack, heading for the United States.

Some U.S. officials have also suggested America might be forced to take action if Mexico can’t deal with the cartels, and Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Mark Green (R-Tenn.) have introduced legislation that would designate cartels as terrorists.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tried adopting a softer approach to cartels than some of his predecessors, arguing that violence only begets more violence.

“It was lamentable, painful because children died, but do we want to resolve the problem the same way [as previous administrations]? By declaring war?” he said at a press conference. “That, in the case of our country, showed that it does not work. That was a failure. It caused more violence.”

Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times