Foreign Policy/Government

GOP senators push for treating Mexico-based cartels as ‘terrorist organizations’

A group of Republican senators have drafted legislation that calls for designating Mexico-based drug- and human-smuggling cartels as terrorist organizations.

Citing the Nov. 4 slaying of a Mormon family — a massacre of three adult women and six children — the Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act prohibits cartel members their families from entering the United States, freezes their assets, and allows for the criminal and civil legal prosecution of individuals who aid the cartels.



Sens. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) introduced the act on Wednesday alongside six other Republican senators.

The bill specifically makes reference to the Nov. 4 killings. The victims held dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico.

“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,” Cotton said in a statement.

“This bill would help stop cartel violence by ensuring these groups—and anyone who helps them—face dire consequences for their actions.”

Late last month, President Donald Trump indicated he would designate the cartels as terrorist groups, but he has since backed off, saying there is a lot involved with such decisions.




“You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process,” the president added. “At some point, [something] has to be done.”

The Cotton-Sasse bill requires the president to “submit a report to Congress that identifies the foreign organization associated with the foreign persons” determined to be responsible for the Nov. 4 murders.

The report would also detail whether the cartel responsible should be designated a “Significant Transnational Criminal Organization.”

“This designation would give federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need to go after the butchers who blur the line between drug trafficking and terrorism,” Sasse said in a statement.

“Cartels have slaughtered innocent American children, blackmailed their way to the top, and flooded our country with drugs. Let’s crush these sickos.”

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