Cracking down on cartels: Experts say there’s more to consider

(NewsNation) — Four Americans kidnapped in Mexico were found Tuesday. Two of them have died, and two others survived after officials say they were caught in the crossfire of rival cartel groups in Matamoros, Mexico.

So far, no organizations have taken responsibility for the kidnapping. But the Gulf cartel is known to dominate the Matamoros area.

In the wake of recent violence from the cartels, some have questioned the U.S.-Mexico partnership and asked whether the U.S. should label cartels as terrorists or take military action against them.

NewsNation political contributor Chris Hahn says cracking down on cartels isn’t a simple solution due to supply and demand.

“It’s complicated. Mexico is our top trading partner. You think we have supply chain problems now? Let’s go to war with Mexico and see what happens. We won’t be able to get a dishwasher for three years in this country,” Hahn said during an interview with “On Balance” host Leland Vittert.

Hahn thinks the problem is broader than just cartels.

“It is a problem. Obviously, the White House and Mexico need to come to a better agreement of how to deal with it … Let’s be clear. This is a very complicated problem that is more than just a cartel problem. It is a supply and demand problem,” Hahn said.

Retired Air Force Special Operations Commander Glenn Ignazio is confident the U.S. could bring the cartels down, but agrees it would be an intricate process.

“The idea of being able to take these cartels and these terrorists, I identify them as that, really out, we would really focus on their leadership, their infrastructure and their operations,” Ignazio told Vittert.

For Hahn, labeling Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations is simply not the answer.

“I think that we can’t just label somebody a terrorist and then go to war, particularly with our biggest trading partner, Mexico. I think that we have to have a comprehensive solution,” Hahn said.

He continued: “Yes, these are dangerous groups, they are criminal organizations, we should treat them as such, we should use every diplomatic lever we have with Mexico to get them to do more and to allow us to do more if they are unwilling to do it themselves. But calling them terrorists, just going in there with Delta Force or the Navy SEALs. I know that’s a nice, easy solution. But this is a much more difficult and delicate problem.”

Ignazio, however, said cartels push law enforcement to their limits, press the edge of the law and change their games. That’s why he thinks escalating to a military operation to fight the cartels might be the right move since it could forcibly change the dynamic of how cartels function.

“It would be a combined effort similar to what we did with ISIS using intelligence, drones, cyber and whatever mechanism that’s possible to shut them down, including their funding line, and anybody that’s actually providing them any kind of material support,” Ignazio said.

On the other hand, Hahn thinks Americans want peace and not military action against Mexico.

“I think that peace is something the American people want, and I don’t think we want another prolonged war, particularly with Mexico, who we do not see as an enemy,” Hahn said. “If you send Delta Force or even drones into Mexico to take out the cartel, there is going to be collateral damage. There are going to be citizens of Mexico who have done nothing wrong who are going to be killed by American bombs if we do that.”

Ignazio agreed that the U.S. would have to watch out for collateral damage. He believes a military operation to take out cartels must be precise and surgical to each organization.

“I think it has to be very focused, and very specific to these cartels. But that is one thing that would scare them,” Ignazio said, later adding: “All of our agencies that work together would be able to take these individuals out.”

Hahn believes the U.S. should rethink how to use the tools the country currently has to combat criminal organizations. Ignazio says the U.S. has the means and capability to take the cartels out if they were treated as terrorists.

While the Biden administration has played up its diplomatic efforts with Mexico, the White House has steered clear of commenting on military involvement.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said President Joe Biden offered him respect to Mexico’s sovereignty and that Mexico will not allow intervention by any country.

On Balance with Leland Vittert

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