Then-President Donald Trump reportedly asked then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in 2020 about launching missiles into Mexico to destroy drug cartel labs, according to a new book.
Esper claims in “A Sacred Oath,” which is expected to be released next week, that the idea from Trump came out of his frustration about the constant flow of drugs across the southern border.
Trump reportedly asked Esper at least twice if the U.S. military could “shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs,” noting that the Mexican government did not “have control of their own country.”
“When Mr. Esper raised various objections, Mr. Trump said that ‘we could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,’ adding that ‘no one would know it was us,’” The New York Times reported. “Mr. Trump said he would just say that the United States had not conducted the strike, Mr. Esper recounts, writing that he would have thought it was a joke had he not been staring Mr. Trump in the face.”
Trump had also pushed to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorists in 2019 before ultimately holding off on doing so at the request of Mexican President Lopez Obrador.
Mexican drug cartels, officially referred to as Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs), are the greatest drug trafficking threat that the U.S. faces, according to the DEA, which notes that they “control most of the U.S. drug market and have established varied transportation routes, have advanced communications capabilities, and hold strong affiliations with criminal groups and gangs in the United States.”
U.S. officials say that the Mexican cartels have established clandestine laboratories in Mexico for the synthesis of fentanyl and other drugs.
The Mexican drug cartels remain the primary source for illicit drugs ranging from fentanyl to methamphetamines in the U.S., and they produce the drugs in “industrial scale laboratories” with precursor chemicals that come from China.
“Chemical shipments are mislabeled at the origin, shipped to legitimate companies, and then diverted by the TCO and smuggled to the clandestine laboratories,” the DEA notes.
The DEA adds that the Mexican drug cartels “control most of the U.S. drug market and have established varied transportation routes, have advanced communications capabilities, and hold strong affiliations with criminal groups and gangs in the United States.”
“Mexican TCOs export significant wholesale quantities of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana into the United States annually,” the report added. “DEA considers the following nine Mexican TCOs as having the greatest drug trafficking impact on the United States: Sinaloa Cartel, CJNG, BeltranLeyva Organization, Cartel del Noreste and Los Zetas, Guerreros Unidos, Gulf Cartel, Juarez Cartel and La Linea, La Familia Michoacána, and Los Rojos.”