The designation of Mexican drug trafficking cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations” will not give the US government new tools for its combat.
In a radio interview by host Bill O’Reilly, President Donald Trump said the United States´s ready to designate Mexican cartels as terrorist groups. “Absolutely,” said the president.
However, according to Vanda Felbab-Brown, a researcher at the Brookings Institution, this action doesn’t really provide additional tools. “The United States already has the same set of tools against cartels without the need for a designation. And moreover, the designation would restrict other types of policy measures, ”the specialist who work in Afghanistan, Mexico and Colombia told REFORMA.
Since 1999, Mexican cartels are already subject to similar sanctions under the Narco Foreign Chiefs Designation Act (Kingpin Law) that prohibits material support to them, as well as freezes their assets within the United States and prohibits transactions with them.
According to regulations, the Bureau of Counterterrorism of the State Department is responsible for identifying entities that could be subject to designation as a foreign terrorist organization.
The three requirements to be designated as a foreign terrorist organization are: being a foreign-based organization, having the ability to engage in terrorism and threaten the security of nationals or interests of the United States.
As others tried unsuccessfully in 2011, Republican congressmen Mark Green of Tennessee and Chip Roy of Texas sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this February asking to designate the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
“These cartels have used barbaric tactics, including those adopted by (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) ISIS and Al Qaeda: kill and torture innocents, destabilize countries and kill members of the Police,” both congressmen said in a statement in February.
Designation under Kingpin Law
– Prohibits material support for designated drug traffickers, making it illegal.
– Freezes assets that an individual or business designated as a drug trafficker may have under the jurisdiction of the United States, as well as prohibits persons from the United States from entering into transactions with him.
Designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization
– Prohibits material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations, rendering it illegal.
– Freezes assets that organizations designated as foreign terrorists may have under US jurisdiction as well as prohibits people from the United States from entering into transactions with it.
– Representatives and members of a designated foreign terrorist organization are inadmissible and, in certain circumstances, deportable.
Mr Trump also said he had told Mexico the US was ready to “go in and clear out” the cartels.
In response Mexico’s foreign minister said his country would not allow any “violation of national sovereignty”.