Manchin condemns cartels as terrorists: ‘What better definition?’

(NewsNation) — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin condemned Mexican drug cartels as terrorists, calling on the United States and Mexico to do more to quell the illegal shipment of drugs across the southern border.

“What else definition would you have of terrorist? What better definition would you want?” Manchin said Tuesday during an appearance on “CUOMO.” “What better proof? We’ve got these drugs that are killing more Americans than any war we’ve ever been in.”

An increasing number of members of Congress have echoed Manchin’s sentiments as more and more drugs are being trafficked into America. Fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, was responsible for more than 100,000 overdose deaths in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Violence in Mexico is a concern, too.

Just this weekend, four Americans were kidnapped when they were caught in the crossfire of rival cartels in Matamoros, Mexico. Two of them were killed; the other two have returned to the United States and are hospitalized in Texas.

Proponents of designating cartel leaders as terrorists argue it would unlock more federal money and resources for going after drug labs. The White House has avoided a direct response to the question of military involvement, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre telling reporters Tuesday “I’m just not going to get into the military and how it’s being used.”

The Biden administration has emphasized its diplomatic efforts to coordinate with Mexico’s government on shutting down cartel operations.

Manchin called on Mexico to build a wall along its own southern border and supported the idea of American intervention in dealing with the cartels.

“The Mexican government’s gotta know if you’re not gonna do it, we’re gonna do it,” Manchin said. “They can control what’s coming through (with a wall); you can’t blame it on all the other South American countries.”

Manchin also took aim at China, the main source of precursor chemicals for making fentanyl.

“China is sending the raw products in, the cartel is processing it and basically poisoning our country,” Manchin said. “The bottom line is we’re being attacked by so many front rights now, but we’re allowing it to happen.”

The border and immigration was a central focus of the 2022 midterm elections and will likely carry over to the next presidential election in just over two years. President Joe Biden has been under intense pressure from Republicans and some in his own party to address the rise in overdose deaths.

Biden hasn’t announced yet whether he will run in 2024. As for Manchin, he said he’ll make a decision by the end of this year. Right now, he’s focused on matters at hand.

“Only in America do you start campaigning two years in advance of an election. It’s just ridiculous. It prevents you from doing the job you’re trying to do,” Manchin said. “I’m going to do my job, and whatever happens in the political future, so be it.”


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