- The Trump administration is increasing its focus on the groups after the killings of Mormons in Sonora last month.
- The LeBarons community, whose members were killed, called upon the Trump administration to designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has objected, especially to the idea of American forces carrying out operations on Mexican territory.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he would be designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist networks. The categorization is set to portend a widening rift between the Mexican and U.S. governments, especially when it comes to dealing with drug syndicates.
The Trump administration is increasing its focus on the groups after the killings of Mormons in Sonora last month. Three women and six children were shot and killed in the area, which is about three hours’ drive from Arizona. The ambush, which is believed to have been carried out by a drug trafficking gang, is reported to have been a case of mistaken identity.
At least that’s the angle perpetuated by Mexican officials. Relatives of the victims, however, believe that the cartels knew who they were targeting. The family was shot at while traveling through a remote part of northern Mexico on November 4.
The LeBarons community, whose members were killed, called upon the Trump administration to designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations saying, “they are terrorists and it’s time to acknowledge it.” On Tuesday, Bill O’Reilly asked Trump if he was going to designate the drug cartels. The president’s response was that he and his administration were going through the process.
He added that he had spoken to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador about the matter and highlighted the need for America to carry out operations against the syndicates in Mexico. Although the Mexican president objected, Trump stressed that something would have to be done.
Designating the groups as terrorist cells would make it difficult for individuals and businesses in America to deal with any companies or individuals that are connected to the drugs-trade. American companies stand to face steep legal ramifications if found to have violated related statutes. Of course, legitimate companies are incredibly hard to discern in a country that is dotted with front enterprises.
The new legal stipulation will affect both imports and exports. On the plus side, there will be tougher gun-sale controls. Dealerships found to be selling weapons to Mexican individuals will find themselves in bigger problems than before. It is estimated that over 150,000 guns used in drug cartel violence in Mexico are bought in the United States.
President Manuel López’s administration has strived to bring down cartel violence in the country by changing the long-standing approach of going after cartel kingpins. Dubbed the kingpin strategy, it has led to the killing and incarceration of drug cartel leaders.
The strategy, which has largely backfired, resulted in fragmented cartel networks that fight among themselves over drug distribution zones. It led to an upsurge in cartel-related violence and consequent deaths, which have spiked to about 90,000 within the past three years. Before this, the average number of homicides in a year was around 17,000.