Lawmakers calling for cartels to be declared ‘terrorist organizations’ after Americans killed in Mexico

UTSA expert says fighting the Mexican drug cartel from this side of the border is more effective.

SAN ANTONIO — Two of the U.S. citizens abducted in Mexico last week are now back on American soil. The bodies of the two killed are expected to be brought back this week.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the four Americans were kidnapped shortly after crossing into Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Mexican officials believe they were mistaken for Haitian smugglers.

The tragic international trip has sparked a renewed push by Republican lawmakers to wage a war on the Mexican drug cartels.

On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina held a press conference calling on the federal government to declare the cartels a ‘foreign terrorist organization.’  It’s something attorney generals in 21 states also support in a recent letter to the Biden administration. The designation would allow U.S. military force in Mexico.

“It’s time now to get serious and use all the tools in the toolbox,” said Sen. Graham. “Not just in the prosecution lane, not just in the law enforcement lane, but in the military lane as well. Hopefully this will change the behavior of the Mexican government. Nothing would please me more than to have a meaningful partnership to take these drug cartels down [so they] stop killing Americans, but if Mexico won’t cooperate, we are going to have to do what’s in our national security interest.”

Dr. Jon Taylor chairs the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). He believes the most effective way to dismantle the cartel is to strengthen our partnership with the Mexican government and to increase enforcement at the U.S./Mexico border.

“A decade ago, there was a discussion about labelling the Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations,” said. Dr. Taylor. “Eventually nothing happened from that. The reason we didn’t do that is because defining a drug cartel as a terrorist organization is not the same thing as declaring like Hamas in the Middle East as a terrorist organization. They don’t quite work the same way. On the average, the cartels are not going to go after Americans and the American tourists – unless it’s an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. They are going after the people in Mexico.”

Dr. Taylor says many Americans smuggle drugs into the U.S. for the cartel, as well as supply them with illegal firearms.

“We don’t have the right to just jump in and invade Mexico,” said Dr. Taylor. “We have to get a handle on it on our side of the border as much as assisting the Mexicans on their side.”

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