WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Some U.S. senators are calling for a crackdown on Mexican drug cartels, with Sen. Lindsey Graham saying they should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.
Graham’s call came after four Americans were kidnapped in Mexico, two of them killed and a third injured.
“We’re going to terrorize the terrorists,” Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said. “Unleash the fury of the United States.”
Graham also wants to authorize the use of military force in Mexico. Graham says it is a necessary step to dismantle the cartels and stop their drug trafficking.
“We’re going to destroy their business model and their lifestyle,” Graham said.
He pointed specifically to busting up fentanyl labs and added the designation would allow the U.S. to go after Chinese companies that he says supply ingredients to the cartels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says fentanyl killed 71,000 Americans in 2021, a 22% increase from the year before.
“If Americans do not see the need to use military force to stop the flow of fentanyl, I would be shocked,” Graham said.
He cited Plan Columbia, a Clinton-era initiative in Columbia that is similar.
There seems to be bipartisan support for the idea, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., saying the designation seems apt.
“What else definition would you have for terrorist?” he said. “We should have special ops that can take care of that, and Mexico has to know if you’re not going to do it, we will.”
“Clearly we need to send a stronger message,” agreed Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
The White House called designation unnecessary, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying it “would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t really have this time.” She said the U.S. already levies powerful sanctions to combat cartels.