US Senator Pushes for ‘Terrorist’ Label on Drug Cartels

Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina. Photo: Google


U.S. senators led by Republican Lindsey Graham from South Carolina have presented an initiative that, if approved, could force the administration of President Joe Biden to include Mexican drug cartels in the list of foreign terrorist organizations.

“We’re going to terrorize the terrorists, unleash the fury and might of the United States against these cartels,” said Graham. “Mexico’s drug cartels have terrorized Americans for decades. We are going to destroy their business model and way of life because our national security depends on us taking decisive action.”

Supported by fellow Republican Senator John N. Kennedy from Louisiana, the bill presented by Graham is, at the moment, considered merely symbolic since the Republican Party is a minority in the U.S. Senate, and the United States Department of State (DOS) is the actual authority that determines which groups should make it to the list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Graham’s initiative comes on the heels of a joint proposal by two Republican lawmakers — Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Michael Waltz of Florida — which would give Biden the authority to use the U.S. Army against Mexican drug cartels.

AMLO responded to Waltz and Crenshaw’s proposal on Monday, March 6, saying that it was 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.”

As a response to Graham’s initiative of tagging Mexican drug cartels as terrorists, López Obrador, in his daily morning press conference on Thursday, March 9, criticized the United States’ legalization of drugs.

“We do not consume fentanyl here in Mexico. And while we are very sorry for what is happening in the United States, why don’t they address the problem? Why don’t they fight the distribution of fentanyl in their own country? The U.S. cartels are in charge of distributing fentanyl,” said López Obrador.

“What’s wrong with him? Of course we do not accept it,” AMLO said, referring to Graham’s bill. “Either he changes his treatment of Mexico, or we start with an information campaign in the United States so that all Mexicans know about this treachery, this aggression by the Republicans against Mexico.”

Addressing AMLO, Graham, for his part, said that the Mexican government is creating a safe haven for drug cartels to operate with impunity “because what you are doing is not working.”

“Your country is being used by narcoterrorists to poison the United States. You leave us no choice,” Graham said.

López Obrador has adopted a controversial “hugs, not bullets” policy against violence and cartels throughout his administration, which has drawn backlash from critics — including the Dallas Morning News and veteran Mexican-American journalist Jorge Ramos, a staunch critic of AMLO.

On Thursday, Mexican federal authorities said they are not ruling out that the assault and kidnapping of four U.S. citizens in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on Friday, March 3, may be related to drug-trafficking operations that the victims were carrying out in Mexican territory.

The four Americans were taken by gunmen after crossing over to Matamoros from Brownsville, Texas, in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates. Sources originally reported that the four had intended to purchase medications from a Matamoros pharmacy.

According to Mexican authorities, however, three of the four U.S. citizens had criminal records in South Carolina related to drug trafficking and the sale and consumption of illegal drugs, as well as possession of firearms. In addition, the four have crossed on multiple occasions into Matamoros from the same border, possibly on drug-related issues.

Two of the U.S. citizens who survived the ordeal were returned to the United States on the morning of Tuesday, March 7, while two were announced dead.

Letavia Lateefa, one of the survivors who was unharmed in the attack, has a history of drug manufacturing and trafficking, theft of property and threatening an official, according to South Carolina court records.

The Tamaulipas Prosecutor’s Office and personnel from the National Anti-Kidnapping Commission (CONASE) said in joint a statement that they had secured a clinic related to the kidnapping, which was used to provide first aid and medical care to the foreigners, as well as an ambulance for their transfer.

“The agents of the Tamaulipas police and CONASE have carried out various activities at various points in Matamoros and carried out image analysis to search for the probable perpetrators,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, relatives and friends of Arely Pablo Servando, the 33-year-old Mexican woman who died from a stray bullet in the assault and kidnapping of the four U.S. citizens, are outraged at the way she was “ignored by authorities in Tamaulipas and in Mexico in general.”

Her loved ones said that Pablo Servando’s name wasn’t even mentioned in the official reports by authorities of the assault, abduction and killings.

According to eyewitness accounts, Pablo Servando was stepping off a bus when she was hit by a stray bullet and remained sprawled on the ground, lifeless, until the authorities came to retrieve her body.

Critics have likewise pointed out that if all the victims of violence and kidnappings in Mexico had been foreigners, their cases would have not been ignored, and the perpetrators would have been brought to justice — similar to the swift handling of the incident involving the four Americans.

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