On Wednesday, House Freedom Caucus member Reps. Mark Green (R-TN) and Chip Roy (R-TX) announced a letter that they are sending to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging Pompeo to formally designate many of the leading violent drug cartels operating south of the border as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). The legislators identified the Reynosa/Los Metros arm of the Gulf Cartel, the Cartel Del Noreste arm of Los Zetas, and the Sinaloa Cartel's Jalisco New Generation offshoot as organizations that they believe presently meet the State Department's official FTO designation definition.
"These groups use terror to intimidate and to advance their agenda," the letter reads. "They threaten the stability of governments across the globe. Even the United Nation's Security Council has recognized the clear link between drug trafficking and terrorism."
"Drug cartels have committed heinous acts of terrorism, from carrying out bombings that have killed innocent people, conducting ISIS-style beheadings, assassinating government officials and members of law enforcement, and engaging in torture and and indiscriminate murder," the letter continues.
According to the lawmakers' letter, the U.S. Department of Justice has claimed that the number of trafficking cases it has filed increased by a whopping 79% between 2009 and 2016. According to the letter, about 80% of trafficked victims are women, and half are children.
Many conservative commentators have been pushing for the State Department to make precisely this sort of FTO designation of the leading Mexican/Central American drug cartels. In January, Conservative Review Senior Editor Daniel Horowitz strongly made the case:
Imagine for a moment that groups of Islamic terrorists set up shop at our border, killed tens of thousands of Mexicans, mutilated bodies, controlled a flow of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants every year over our border, and flooded our country with drugs and gangs. These organizations, in our “hypothetical,” operate in over 40 countries, are flush with weapons, money, and military-style tactics, control operations inside our country, and bring in drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil that are essentially chemical weapons.
Try to picture the reaction of our government under that circumstance.
Now look at the reality. All of this is happening at our border and in our communities, with one exception. The perpetrators are not Islamic terrorists. It’s time for Trump to designate the Mexican cartels, such as Sinaloa, Zetas, Juarez, Jalisco, Gulf, La Familia Michoacán (LFM), and Los Guerreros Unidos (LGU), as [FTOs].
As The Daily Wire has reported, Congressman Roy has deployed most of his political capital, as a freshman congressman, on the border security issue. His maiden floor speech excoriated public officials' lack of seriousness in securing our southwestern border. "In my visit to the border, one thing is clear," Roy said at the time. "Dangerous cartels are calling the shots...the cartels have operational control of the border." Along with fellow freshman Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Roy visited the border again in early February and subsequently lamented, "It’s unconscionable that we as a nation, the most powerful nation the world has ever known, are allowing this to happen in our back yard where these little girls, these kids, are getting exploited by cartels as they move through the Rio Grande Valley."