(NewsNation) — In an effort to fight against Mexican drug cartels’ amid the fentanyl crisis in the U.S., some lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to label them as terrorists.
Some officials have said if the Mexican cartels are going to act like terrorist organizations, they should be treated like terrorist organizations.
While he doesn’t underestimate their threat, John Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations and former White House national security advisor, argued against labeling cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
“I think it fuzzes things up to label something as bad as the drug cartels a terrorist organization. They’re not like Hamas or Hezbollah. It’s a different threat, it’s a different serious problem,” Bolton said on “Morning in America.” “As I say, I’m not underestimating it at all, but I think rhetorical gimmicks don’t help advance policy.”
He added: “We’ve got two separate, very real problems — the drug cartels in Mexico and throughout the hemisphere and terrorist groups that conduct actual terrorist operations in the Middle East, and in this country as well, including their state sponsors like Iran. But let’s keep them straight; they’re different problems. They’re going to require different responses and calling them all the same thing I think just risks confusion.”
On Wednesday, the White House batted down suggestions from some Republican lawmakers to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups, arguing it would have minimal benefits.
“Designating these cartels as [foreign terrorist organizations] would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t really have at this time,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing with reporters. “The United States has powerful sanctions authorities specifically designated to combat narcotics trafficking organizations and the individuals and entities that enable them. So, we have not been afraid to use them.”
Meanwhile, Bolton suggested that the U.S. talk to Mexico about putting troops on the ground to combat the cartels, an idea that has arisen in the wake of a deadly kidnapping of Americans last week.
“We proved years ago in what was called ‘Plan Colombia’ that effective cooperation between the U.S., in that case, Colombian military and law enforcement really put the bite on the drug cartels there. We’re not interested in infringing on Mexican sovereignty. The drug cartels are the ones who are infringing on their sovereignty and ours through their conduct. so working together and that could mean joint military, certainly joint law enforcement operation makes sense for both of us.”