The residents of Santa Rosa De Lima, Guatemala say hundreds of residents have fled their hometown to travel illegally to the United States. Human trafficking organizations are touting U.S. laws as a guarantee for jobs and asylum for those making the trek. They say they are turning into a "ghost town." (Photo: SaraACarter.com)

In early June, I testified before the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee on House Resolution Bill 10 urging the federal government to designate Mexico’s top drug cartels terrorist organizations. On June 20, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the resolution with full bipartisan support.

This is great news and a first step of many. The point stressed during the hearing was to urge the federal government to designate several of the Mexican drug cartels Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Currently, the drug cartels are classified as transnational criminal organizations. The bill must now seek passage of the full Ohio House legislature.

Here is the message: We will no longer tolerate the deaths of children. We will no longer tolerate the poisoning of our nation and we will no longer allow the drug cartels to control and take advantage of our immigration crisis. 

Democrats and Republicans can work together, as shown in Ohio, to take a stand against these narco-terrorists and tackle this crisis with full force. It is the reason the foundation I established last year The Dark Wire: An Investigation Foundation produced the non-profit documentary Not In Vein. Instead of talking about the problems we should be proposing solutions. After all, it is our country and ‘we the people’ are in charge.

Designating the drug cartels Foreign Terrorist Organizations, instead of transnational criminal organizations, is the best way to seize hundreds of billions of dollars from the cartels bank accounts, hold the cartel leadership responsible, unleash the full force of our Defense Department programs, along with other federal law enforcement resources, to assist our counterparts in Mexico to fight the narco-traffickers. It will give the tools necessary to establish real tactical operations and for once take control of the crisis instead of talking about it.

Extensive law enforcement, military training, financial and IT investigators will crush the narco-terrorists operations and root out those on their payrolls in an effort to dismantle them.

Organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco Nuevo Generacion Cartel, Beltran Levva Cartel, Los Zetas and others have blackmailed, strong-armed, brutalized, killed and recruited both people in Mexico and the United States to continue their operations. We will find out who they are and one by one, take them down. It won’t be a dog and pony show with a drug cartel leader going to jail, like Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman after nearly three decades of operating and then replacing him with another narco leader. It will allow us to use all the tools in America’s toolbox to dismantle the organization from the top down.

Derek Maltz, the former head of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, who testified, alongside Heidi Riggs, who daughter Marin died shortly after her 20th birthday of a heroin overdose and I, noted during the June hearing that deaths in Mexico are at “record level for the country, and we have seen serious violence in America as well.”

“Based on the unprecedented violence, deaths to Americans and criminal activities, a sound case can be made to designate the Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations pursuant to the U.S Department of State criteria,” he testified. “The Mexican cartels have left a trail of blood using intimidation and terrorist acts of ruthless violence. The cartels engage in beheadings, car bombings, dissolving humans in acid, mass murders, torture, bombings and political assassinations. Their actions are consistent with the behaviors of traditional terrorists and they have infiltrated the highest levels of the Mexican government with bribes and corruption. Despite these trends, people refer to the Mexican cartels as only transnational organized criminals even though they operate like terrorists and wreak havoc all over their country, United States and Canada.”

The Secretary of State designates Foreign Terrorist Organizations in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The legal criteria for designating a group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization are:
  • It must be a foreign organization.
  • The organization must engage in terrorist activity, as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)),* or terrorism, as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)(2)),** or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism. (check)
  • The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or thenational security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States. (Foreign Terrorist Organizations, n.d.)Based on the State Department’s designation the drug cartels fit the bill. Now, it’s up to us to ensure that it happens on a federal level.

It won’t be easy. The narco-traffickers will fight back. These organizations have been allowed to amass hundreds of billions of dollars off of the death of Americans and people around the world.

The drug cartels leave death and destruction in their path. Think about this, there were over 29,000 murders in Mexico in 2017 and over 33,000 in 2018. And those are just the numbers we know due to faulty statistics on missing persons and deaths in Mexico.

Moreover, in the United States the deadly chemical Fentanyl and Heroin, which roughly 95 percent is transported through our southern border, is killing more than 130 people per day.

The cartels have franchised out to selling arms, human trafficking, child pornography and yes, in some cases have allowed their transit routes into the U.S. and money laundering operations to be accessed by terrorist organizations. Why? Because the drug cartels are terrorists.

But now they have met their match: the American people. It’s going to be American families, friends, local law enforcement, federal law enforcement and our lawmakers who will have the last word. It’s going to be our nation’s mothers and fathers who fight for their children’s lives. Believe me, the cartels are no match for us.

Maltz said it best during his testimony, “for the United States to properly deal with one of America’s greatest national security threats, it’s time to stop debating and procrastinating, and designate the violent cartels as terrorists. In this country we need to put the politics aside and look at the volume of deaths alone. For the members of this General Assembly of Ohio, look at all the citizens from Ohio who have died from this crisis and the destruction of so many great American families.”

Sara A Carter is a visiting fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum and Executive Director of the non-profit The Dark Wire: An Investigation Foundation.


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