U.S. Army soldiers. Photo: Google


As the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 warning — the highest-level warning in the department’s travel advisory system — against travelling to Matamoros after four U.S. citizens were reported abducted at gunpoint in that northern Mexican border on Friday, March 3, two Republican lawmakers have proposed a joint resolution giving U.S. President Joe Biden the authority to use the military against drug cartels in Mexico.

The four kidnapped Americans entered Matamoros — a city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which shares a border with Brownsville, Texas — while travelling in a white van with North Carolina license plates. A video of the kidnapping, which was posted on Twitter, appeared to show armed men with rifles and wearing bulletproof vests forcing the victims, one after another, into the back of a pickup truck.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar issued a statement on Monday, March 6, saying that the U.S. citizens were abducted at gunpoint, and that a Mexican citizen died in the attack. Salazar said in the statement that various U.S. justice agencies — including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — were working with their Mexican counterparts to recover the missing Americans.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in his daily press conference on the morning of Monday, said that the four Americans crossed the border to buy medicine and ended up getting caught in a firefight between two armed groups.

Matamoros is considered ground zero for the Gulf Cartel, one of the oldest organized crime groups in Mexico, and is known for its warring factions.

In the same Monday press conference, López Obrador reacted to the move of Republican lawmakers Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Michael Waltz of Florida, which proposes sending members of the U.S. Army to fight organized crime in Mexico, saying it’s nothing more than “pure propaganda.”

“Invading another country with the excuse that they are going against terrorist drug traffickers, of course it’s pure propaganda,” said López Obrador. “However, all these claims of interventionism must be rejected — Mexico is an independent, sovereign country.”

On Jan. 12, Crenshaw and Waltz introduced a joint resolution “to give President Joe Biden the military authority to combat transnational cartels smuggling fentanyl into the United States.”

Crenshaw, who authored the bill, said that cartels “are responsible for about 360,000 homicides this year in Mexico” and that they are “militaristic in nature,” mirroring “an all-out civil war” in most cases.

“What we’ve been dealing with for a while now, and nobody wants to talk about it too much, is a potentially failed narcoterrorist state at our border,” said Crenshaw, in an interview with Fox News Digital in January. “And when you have 80,000 Americans a year dying from fentanyl overdose, oftentimes not even knowing they were taking fentanyl, that to me is active hostilities against the American people.”

For his part, Waltz — who cosponsored the bill — said that that the resolution was needed because organized crime groups in Mexico “have exceeded the capability of law enforcement” and are a “paramilitary arm armed with armored vehicles, heavy weapons and billions of dollars at their disposal.”

“And we’ve even seen collaboration with international terrorist groups and the Chinese Communist Party with these groups,” Waltz said in the same interview with Fox News. “So we believe that we need to start using military assets to address this national security threat.”

Resolution 18, titled “Resolution on the Authorization of the Use of Military Force to Combat, Attack, Resist, Target, Eliminate and Limit the Influence” (of drugs), would allow U.S. forces to act against “those foreign nations, foreign organizations or foreign persons affiliated with foreign organizations” which “have violated the law and attempt or conspire to traffic fentanyl or a related substance into the United States.”

For the bill to be endorsed, it would have to be voted on and approved in the U.S. lower house, endorsed in the U.S. Senate and then approved and signed by Biden, who has the last word.

Meanwhile, a report in business-focused Mexican daily newspaper El Financiero detailed the worsening insecurity in Mexico, which could threaten the expansion of nearshoring in the country.

Mexico is a key trade partner of the United States, and could benefit from nearshoring with annual exports of over $35 billion, according to estimates by economic experts. However, insecurity — particularly road insecurity, with increasing vehicle robbery on highways — has worsened in some regions in Mexico, limiting the growth of nearshoring in the country.

In 2022 alone, 3,361 vehicle robberies were registered in Mexico, 1,580, or 47 percent of which were heavy trucks and cargo transport, according to the National Association of Vehicle Tracking and Protection Companies (ANERPV).

David Román, president of ANERPV, told El Financiero that despite the deployment of more than 95,000 National Guard (GN) elements helping to reduce cargo theft, the arrival of new investments continues to whet the appetite of road bandits.

“We are seeing an increase in the rate of road robberies, especially in these new industrial parks. There are several parks that are opening, especially in the Bajío area (a geographical region within the central Mexican plateau),” Román said. “There are more parks for the aeronautical industry in Mazatlán, in the Yucatán and throughout the country where we are seeing this phenomenon, even in Monterrey, which has to do with the up-and-coming Tesla plant.”


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