The U.S. attorney general William Barr is in Mexico, as the Trump administration pushes for a cartel crackdown.
In Mexico, U.S. Pushes for Cartel Crackdown
U.S. Attorney General William Barr is in Mexico City today, Thursday Dec. 5th to discuss the security situation in the country, as President Donald Trump considers officially designating Mexican drug cartels terrorist groups. Barr has meetings scheduled with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, and other top law enforcement officials.
Barr’s visit comes after an increase in cartel violence in Mexico, where nine dual U.S. citizens were killed last month. The Trump administration has continued to put pressure on López Obrador to rein in the cartels and curb the country’s rising homicide rate—which has set a record this year, even as the president’s approval ratings remain strong.
What would naming the cartels as terrorists mean? The Trump administration will make a decision about the terrorist group designation on Friday, Bloomberg reports. If it goes forward, the cartels would fall under the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) category, along with the Islamic State and al Qaeda. The designation is usually intended to disrupt groups’ financing. The suggestion has alarmed Mexico, which called it “interventionism.”
Living with violence. In Mexico—particularly in the north—citizens fear that cartel violence will return to levels not seen since 2013, when the Zetas cartel threatened the area. Over the weekend, 23 people were killed in a gunfight in Coahuila state, where the Cartel del Noreste, a Zetas offshoot, is seeking to stake a claim. Meanwhile, U.S. immigration authorities continue to send asylum seekers to Mexico, including to some areas grappling with violence.