By – Jeffrey B. Stamm
Our nation is suffering death by a hundred thousand cuts in the form of drug poisoning deaths every year, which are continuing to rise. On average, that’s three hundred Americans dying every single day. In addition to the exploding body count, four million of our fellow citizens enter substance abuse treatment programs every year, two million visit hospital emergency rooms suffering from drug overdose symptoms and, lastly, illegal drugs now cost our society over three trillion dollars per year in lost productivity, as well as social, criminal, and health related costs of every kind.
If one wished to purposefully introduce a chemical weapon of mass destruction into a society to destroy it from within, he would be hard pressed to find something more insidious than many of the modern synthetic drugs manufactured and distributed by Mexican drug cartels. In fact, at just two milligrams for a lethal dose, fentanyl is more deadly than many of the other compounds on the United Nations’ prohibited list of chemical weapons such as sarin, VX, strychnine, phosgene gas, and potassium cyanide.
Fentanyl continues to pour across our Southern border in ever more decimating amounts, killing more young Americans than any other cause. Methamphetamine has increased tenfold in the past decade. And now we see the emergence of the ghastly horse tranquilizer Xylazine being trafficked to our citizens. Mexican transnational criminal organizations are flooding this country with cheap, pure, highly addictive, and deadly drugs by the ton, manufactured with precursor chemicals profusely supplied by China. All designed for them to expand their power and riches on the backs of addicted and dead Americans. And too many of our “leaders” at every level remain feckless and mute.
In determining whether Mexican drug cartels should be labeled as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), one must first understand that terrorism is not a specific entity or a particular ideology, it is a tactic — a tactic designed to cow and crush any opposition through violence and intimidation targeted at both the government and the people. The tactics of the Mexican predators have also worked tragically and alarmingly well against our own current regime in Washington.
The Rand Corporation recently produced an anemic position paper arguing that designating the drug cartels as FTOs is “hardly a solution.” Brian Jenkins, Rand’s senior advisor to the think tank, maintains that “drug trafficking and other organized criminal activities are already serious crimes in the United States and there are ample statutes to deal with it.” Well, maybe. But that would only be true if we had a president, attorney general, and the secretary of Homeland Security with the cojones to enforce existing law. They don’t. In fact, our current government has demonstrated its frightening weakness repeatedly — not merely its daily duplicity on the Mexican border, but with grotesquely disproportionate prisoner exchanges involving convicted narcoterrorists Victor Bout and Haji Bashir Noorzai, both of whom have pledged to return to battling against the United States from Russia and Afghanistan, respectively.
When we were a serious nation concerned with things like our national security and the rule of law, we had no problem designating transnational drug trafficking organizations like the Colombian FARC, the Peruvian Shining Path, the Kurdish PKK and the Philippines’ Abu Sayyaf as FTOs. And now, with the ruthlessly efficient and violent Mexican groups that are more proximate, more numerous and pushing more deadly and addictive varieties of illegal drugs than the world has ever experienced — all enabled and enforced with monstrous acts of barbarity that clearly cross the threshold of what has been traditionally defined as terrorism — we flinch.
To be clear, we’re not just fighting Mexican drug traffickers, we’re fighting the world’s most powerful and prolific narcoterrorists who happen to be based in Mexico. Narcoterrorists who not only control the entirety of U.S.-Mexico border, but have their largest presence outside of their own country right here in ours. It has been estimated that the various Mexican cartels have a presence in over 3,000 American cities and towns. They are here solely to sell drugs to Americans and engage in other types of organized crime like human trafficking. I can think of no greater modern example of Cicero’s warning to his fellow Romans about allowing an enemy within the gates. Just like international terrorists, the various Mexican organizations are single-minded, zealous, highly ethnocentric, and shockingly violent. And, whether we like it or not, they take our forgiving multiculturalism and our moral and cultural relativism as weakness.
The process of FTO designation is actually quite simple and straightforward. Title 8 U.S. Code, Section 1189 vests within the Secretary of State the authority to make such an autonomous declaration. It requires no legislation, no presidential approval, no funding. It can be done today. It should be done today. Secretary Antony Blinken should be made to feel the hot demand to do so by the American people.
Yet, we need to understand that this would not be a panacea, the answer to all our border problems. In fact, the Rand piece is quite correct in its argument that launching “the full fury and might” of the United States military inside Mexico, as the LARPing windbag known as Senator Lindsay Graham is currently hawking, is a complete political non-starter. But, to turn the Rand argument on its head, we don’t need to designate the cartels as FTOs in order to engage the U.S. military in Mexico, as we have been providing intelligence and technological support — as much as they have allowed — to Mexican forces for many years; that is, until President Andres Lopez-Obrador implemented his policy of dealing with the cartels with “hugs, not bullets.”
The biggest reason for FTO designation is not even about potential actions in Mexico at all. It’s about providing domestic law enforcement agencies with the statutory tools to target and arrest anyone providing material support to foreign terrorists. Thus, anyone selling Sinaloa’s fentanyl, trafficking La Familia’s methamphetamine, or transporting CJNG’s human sex slaves can be prosecuted, their assets seized, and their co-conspirators deported with enhanced urgency. Moreover, states that pass “material support” legislation that mirrors federal statutes need no longer rely upon Washington to be able to take such action.
When DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in 1985 by the Guadalajara cartel, along with elements of the Mexican government, the Reagan administration shut down the entire Mexican border to achieve justice for one man fighting for his nation. And, more recently, when the Zetas cartel killed ICE agent Jaime Zapata and wounded his partner Victor Avila in a roadside ambush in Mexico in 2011, law enforcement agencies across the United States organically launched “Operation Bombardier,” coordinated by DEA, to target, dismantle, and disrupt every aspect of the Zetas organization and activities within our nation, as well as in Mexico. Both follow-on actions were designed not merely to reassert the rule of law, but to avenge injustices against America herself.
Just last week, on April 29, thousands of patriots gathered at the steps of the state capitol in Austin, Texas to demand that our government secure our sovereign borders. One of their entreaties was the need to declare every one of Mexico’s sinister narcoterrorist groups as foreign terrorist organizations. They are right to do so, as today’s avengers require its tools to protect the homeland on our behalf.
It is way past time to do so.
Jeff Stamm is a 40-year law enforcement veteran, having served as a Deputy Sheriff in Sacramento County, California; a Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and as the Executive Director of the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). He is also the author of On Dope: Drug Enforcement and The First Policeman.