By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday issued an executive order that officially designates certain Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, as drugs smuggled into the US are killing Americans at an alarming rate.
In one year, fentanyl has killed nearly 20 times more people than the number killed in terrorist attacks over decades.
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“Fentanyl is a clandestine killer and Texans are falling victim to the Mexican cartels that produce it,” Abbott said. “Cartels are terrorists and it’s time we treated them that way. In fact, more Americans died from fentanyl poisoning in the past year than all terrorist attacks around the world in the past 100 years. To save our country, especially our next generation, we need to do more to get fentanyl off our streets.”
He also sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that these cartels be classified as foreign terrorist organizations under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
It’s the second time he’s made the request to the president. In April 2021, Abbott requested Biden to designate Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. In his September 21 letter, he says that since then: “There was no action, no reaction.”
“But if you’re ready to make Americans safer,” he wrote to the president, “it will be better late than never. As the number of American deaths continues to rise due to the terrorist behavior of the cartels, now is the time to to take action. We have no more time to lose.”
In his executive order, Abbott stated: “Mexican drug cartels are responsible for smuggling hundreds of millions of lethal doses of fentanyl into Texas and the United States. More than 1,600 Texans were fatally poisoned by drugs containing fentanyl in 2021, an increase of more than 680 percent since 2018, and the fentanyl death toll will continue to rise in 2022.”
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Jonathan Hullihan, an expert on national security laws, said the federal government is using Section 219 of the INA, 8 USC § 1189, “to dismantle and disrupt the activities of designated terrorist organizations around the world.”
He told The Center Square: “A federal FTO designation gives legal authority to stop funding steams, impose financial sanctions, and allow the Department of Justice to prosecute individuals who provide material support to such designated organizations. ” It can also be used by the US military “to find, resolve and end terrorist activities under national authority”.
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“The Texas FTO designation is important because it clarifies the relationship between fentanyl trafficking by non-state actors who command and control dehumanizing, violent and other horrific narco-terrorist activities common on the Texas border” , he adds. .
Mexican cartels and their agents manufacture fake pills in Mexico that are made to look like valid prescription drugs laced with fentanyl. They are easier and cheaper to produce than other types of illicit drugs and can be easily carried in backpacks or hidden in cargo being transported across borders.
Since Abbott’s border security initiative, Operation Lone Star, was launched last March, Texas DPS officials have seized more than 336 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill everyone in the U.S.
In fiscal years 2021 and 2022, CBP agents have so far seized enough fentanyl on the southern border to kill nearly 5 billion people.
Abbott also announced Wednesday that he was expanding the efforts of Operation Lone Star and instructed DPS to establish a Mexican cartel division within the Texas Fusion Center. The division will focus on identifying Texas gang members collaborating with Mexican drug cartels, including targeting and dismantling their infrastructure, seizing their assets, vehicles and buildings; conducting multi-jurisdictional investigations of foreign terrorist organizations operating in Texas in support of criminal prosecutions; and strengthening southbound criminal interdiction operations and inter-port-of-entry activities.
In his letter to Biden, the Texas governor wrote, “Mexican drug cartels terrorize the United States and its citizens every day, leaving thousands of corpses behind. Their latest weapon of choice is the millions of tiny pills laced with fentanyl they are pouring across our southern border. now more than ever, it is necessary that you designate the Sinaloa cartel, the Jalisco New Generation cartel and similar Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations” under Article 219 of the INA.
This will help us fight back against these terrorists and disrupt their deadly attacks on America, he said.
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In the letter, he also cites an executive order issued by the president on December 15, 2021, declaring a national emergency in response to the number of deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control that were attributed to fentanyl. More than 75,000 Americans died from drug overdoses involving fentanyl between February 2021 and February 2022, according to the CDC. This is nearly 20 times the number of Americans killed by terrorist attacks between 1995 and 2019, Abbott notes.
“In this light, the scale of terrorism associated with the release of fentanyl by Mexican drug cartels is astonishing,” Abbott said.
In addition, these statistics underscore that fentanyl is a ‘chemical’ used by Mexican drug cartels that know[s], directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more persons.’ 8 USC § 1182(a)(3)(B)(iii)(V). This is ‘terrorist activity’ within the meaning of the INA and meets the requirements for designation under Article 219.”
Abbott’s announcement comes after he… directed multiple government agencies on Tuesday to expand their efforts to warn Texans of the dangers of fentanyl and expressed its intention for the state legislature to take additional measures to protect Texans at the next legislative session.
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.