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Are the Mexican drug cartels terrorist organizations?

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Republican attorneys general from 21 states are calling on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to declare Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

San Antonio Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales is also calling for the terrorist designation for Mexican drug cartels.

They argue that the cartels pose a threat to U.S. national security beyond their drug-related activities.

However, the cartels don’t have a stated political agenda other than extreme blood-fueled capitalism.

The attorneys general emphasize that the designation of these groups as terrorist organizations would grant state and federal law enforcement agencies increased authority to freeze cartel assets, deny members entry to the United States, and allow prosecutors to press for tougher punishments against those supporting cartels.

These are all measures which can be applied now without the terrorist designation.

But using the power and authority of the U.S. military in counterterrorism could green- light offensive operations in Mexico including the deployment of troops and use of armed drones to kill cartel leaders with the hope this would disrupt the operations of these cartels.

How do the cartels operate in Mexico? Are they a threat to U.S. national security? How could military operations in Mexico, the second largest trading partner to the United States, damage relations in Mexico?


Robert Almonte: Retired Deputy Chief, El Paso Police Department, Former United States Marshal, Western District of Texas. Currently trains law enforcement officers on the Mexican Cartels.

Javed Ali: Associate Professor of Practice,
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet@TPRSource.

*This interview will be recorded on Thursday, March 9.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi