President Donald Trump in an interview published Tuesday said his administration is thinking “very seriously” about designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
“We are. We are,” Trump told Breitbart News. “We’re thinking about doing it very seriously. In fact, we’ve been thinking about it for a long time. . . . As terrorists – as terrorist organizations, the answer is yes. They are.”
His comments come in the wake of his declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, a move designed to spend more money on border barriers than authorized by Congress.
According to the State Department, a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) must be a foreign organization that either practices or has the means to practice terrorism and “threatens the security of United States nationals or the national security of the United States.”
Republican lawmakers have pushed legislation to allow such a designation for drug cartels. Last month, Reps. Mark Green, R-Tenn., and Chip Roy, R-Texas, presented a similar proposal to the State Department, seeking to apply terrorist sanctions on cartel members and third parties providing them assistance.
“Mexico, unfortunately, has lost control of the cartels,” Trump said during his Oval Office interview with Breitbart editors and reporters, conducted Monday. “They’ve totally lost control of the cartels.”
During the interview, Trump reiterated that he likes Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, calling him a “wonderful guy.”
But Trump said he was concerned with the country’s rising murder rates, adding that “a lot of it is drug-induced.”