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Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, according to a release published by the Governor's Office on Wednesday.
“Fentanyl is a clandestine killer, and Texans are falling victim to the Mexican cartels that are producing 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 across the globe in the past 100 years. In order to save our country, particularly our next generation, we must do more to get fentanyl off our streets.”
The order comes following the reported deaths of thousands of Texans from unknowingly consuming counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl brought into the U.S. via Mexican cartels. Abbott has also instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety, as well as local law enforcement, to identify Texas-based gangs working with the cartels and seize their assets.
Abbott also sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris asking them to label the cartels as terrorists at the federal level of government.
"Mexican drug cartels terrorize the United States and its citizens every day.... it is necessary, now more than ever, for you to designate the Sinaloa Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and any similarly situated Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations," Abbott wrote. "This move would help us fight back against these terrorists and disrupt their deadly attacks on America."
Abbott's letter also included statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealing that monthly fentanyl deaths have continued to climb since 2021, with over 75,000 Americans having died from fentanyl-related drug overdoses between February 2021 and February 2022.
In early September, Texas Public Policy Foundation CEO Greg Sindelar gave a speech during the American Society of Mexico's Binational Convention in Mexico City regarding the crisis at the American-Mexican border. Sindelar called for both countries' governments to address the threats from the cartels and their associates by officially declaring the situation an "invasion" and designating the Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations.
"Good policy can make things better. Bad policy can destroy a nation," Sindelar said. "I believe that Texas policy can help the people of Mexico create the conditions on our side of the border to support the change needed on our friend’s side of the border."
Sindelar also referenced the “heartbreaking” human toll of over 1,000 fatalities on the southern border since January of 2021, where “a massive wave of migration” from Mexico is met by the criminal exploitation apparatus of the Mexican cartel networks which monetize and commoditize hopeful migrants as “disposable parts of a money-making machine.”
Sindelar argued that cartels effectively maintain “complete control over the southern side of the border” and are involved in even more insidious operations than human and drug smuggling. “The cartels take more than money from women and girls. Some are sold into the sex trade or into modern-day slavery,” he said. “Rape, assault, and sexual slavery are an everyday fact of life for the women and children who attempt to cross. And there is one root cause: The cartels have complete control over the southern side of the border.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has labeled the South Texas border as "a principal drug smuggling corridor" between America and Mexico, and a Wall Street Journal article published on Aug. 30 describes how the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels, in particular, have come to establish such a strong foothold in America. Furthermore, the CDC reported that nationwide overdose levels have broken records in 2021, with the total nearing 108,000, over 71,00 of which being related to fentanyl.