The US will legally designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups, President Donald Trump says.
WASHINGTON D.C. (Times Media Mexico/Agencies) – According to Donald Trump, he said to Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador that the US was ready to “go in and clear out” the cartels if Mexico cannot do it.
In response to that, Mexico’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico would not allow any “violation of national sovereignty”. However, earlier this month, Trump vowed to “wage war on the drug cartels” after the deadly attack on the LeBaron family, all of them, US citizens in Mexico.
The victims were three women and six children who were Mormons of dual US-Mexican nationality, killed in an ambush while travelling through a remote area of northern Mexico on November 4.
Mexican officials claim it was a case of mistaken identity, but the relatives of the victims say the killers knewn exactly who they were targeting.
After the attack, the LeBaron family, petitioned the White House to list the cartels as terror groups, saying: “They are terrorists and it’s time to acknowledge it.”
Bill O’Reilly interviews Trump
Conservative media figure Bill O’Reilly asked President Trump on Tuesday 26 of November, whether he was going to designate the cartels as terror groups and “start hitting them with drones”.
Trump´s answer was: “They will be designated… 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.”
He added that he had told Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that the US was willing to launch operations against the cartels inside Mexico. “I’ve already offered him to let us go in and clean it out and he so far has rejected the offer but at some point something has to be done,” Mr Trump said.
What would the designation mean?
When a group is designated as a terrorist organisation in the US, it becomes illegal for people in the US to knowingly offer support. Its members are also banned from entering the US. If they are already in the US, they face being deported.
If financial institutions discover they have funds connected to the group, they are required to block the money and alert the US Treasury Department.
For some analysts, this is a good idea since the designation would affect the supply of weapons to the cartels from the US. It was earlier this year that a US government study traced more than 150,000 firearms including assault rifles back from Mexican criminals to gun shops and factories in the US.
Under anti-terror laws, those who purchase the guns in the US for the cartels could face much heavier penalties.
Other analysts suggest such a designation could complicate possible Mexican government negotiations with cartels as well as efforts by US agencies and NGOs to support peace moves.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico had made clear to the US its rejection of any violation of its sovereignty. He also said Mexico was committed to tackling transnational organised crime. “Mutual respect is the basis for cooperation,” Ebrard said.
A foreign ministry statement said Mr Ebrard would discuss the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Mexico wants measures to reduce the flow of weapons and money from the US to the cartels as well as efforts to stop the movement of drugs across its territory towards the US” the statement said.
On Monday, November 25, López Obrador told journalists: “Mexico will not accept foreign intervention against the cartels. Our problems will be solved by Mexicans. We don’t want any interference from any foreign country.”
The cartels and their power
Mexico’s drug war has claimed more than 250 thousand lives. The power of drug cartels is not only on their fire power but also in the olitical and economical arena. Cartels control vast areas of the country and are responsible for political corruption, extorsion, assassinations and kidnappings.
Attacks on security forces and public officials, have gained notoriety, including the downing of an army helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Earlier this week at least 13 police officers were killed in an ambush in the western state of Michoacán. The attack is believed to have been carried out by the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG)
In a now-notorious incident called the “Culiacanazo” back in October, hundreds of gunmen from the Sinaloa cartel overpowered security forces in Culiacán, Sinaloa´s state capital, taking troops hostage and eventually forcing the government to release a captured cartel leader Ovidio Guzmán, son of the notorious Mexican drug lord Chapo Guzman.
Since the beginning of his administration, López Obrador has chosen a “non-confrontational approach” with the claim of “abrazos, no balazos” – hugs not bullets.
His policy has been seriously questioned by most of Mexico´s citicens and the United States government, particularly after Mexican security forces were so widely outgunned in Culiacán.
The US government, in multiple ocasions has labelled the Sinaloa Cartel as “If not the largest, one of the largest drug-trafficking organisations in the world”.
Even thou, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison, the group continues to make billions of dollars from trafficking illicit narcotics to the US, Europe and Asia, US offcials say.
Meanwhile the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel is believed to have assets worth more than $20 billion USD and is one of the main distributors of synthetic drugs on the continent, the US says.
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