Officials from the Obama administration tturned down pleas from lawmakers and public-interest groups to place the names of Mexican drug cartels on their list of designated terrorist organizations.
The "terrorist organization" designation would give U.S. law enforcement agencies the authority to use such measures as the Patriot Act to crack down on suspected drug cartel members and associates using tools such as seizing their bank accounts or imposing harsher prison sentences for gun possession.
The issue arose during a House Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on border security. Top members of the U.S. House of Representatives on May 6 called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support the designation of certain Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management also requested that Secretary Clinton develop a comprehensive strategy to assist the Mexican government win their war against the violent and deadly cartels such as Los Zetas, who are suspected of murdering an American law enforcement agent.
The Congressmen stated that the purpose of their letter was threefold:
* To bring to your attention the conclusions reached as a result of our March 31, 2011, Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management hearing, "The U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against Drug Cartels."
* To encourage support of H.R. 1270, designating certain Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
* To request that [the State] Department develop a comprehensive strategy with the overall goal of assisting the Mexican Government in their effort to win the war against the drug cartels.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, "The massacres of young people and migrants, the killing and disappearance of Mexican journalists, the use of torture, and the phenomena of car bombs have received wide media coverage and have led some analysts to question if the violence has been transformed into something new, beyond the typical violence that has characterized the trade. For instance, some observers have raised the concern that the Mexican [Drug Trafficking Organizations] DTOs may be acting more like domestic terrorists."
"This increased violence towards the Mexican Government, legal system and media threatens the very foundation of that nation. The threat of Mexico becoming a lawless haven should cause this Administration to seek the tools it needs to ensure the security of our border and provide assistance to our ally in the south," stated the Congressmen.
"The Mexican drug cartels present a dangerous threat to the national security of the United States. I strongly urge you to use every capability of the U.S. Government to counter this growing threat to our economy, our security and well being of our citizens. Equally as important, we must make sure Mexico does not become a failed state and yet another haven for terrorists."
Besides King and McCaul, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Dan Burton (R-I
Grayling Williams, director of Homeland Security's counternarcotics enforcement, replied that there already are enough laws to combat drug gangs in the United States. He also said that using such laws and tactics that "might be too severe."
The Mexican news media are reported to be closely following the debate about whether the U.S. military and police will use tactics reserved for terrorists against the Mexican cartels such as Los Zetas.
"The Mexican government has warned the United States against any actions that would violate its sovereignty," a police source told the Law Enforcement Examiner. "It's almost comical to hear the Mexican government complain about their sovereignty when illegal aliens, drug smugglers and human traffickers violate U.S. sovereignty every single day -- and sometimes even Mexico's military and police, for that matter," he said.
A war between the cartels and the Mexican government that started in December 2006 has claimed more 35,000 lives and resulted in the discovery of mass graves. A "terrorist" designation for drug cartels also would make it easier for the Justice Department to extradite gang members to the United States, according to several legal experts.
Meanwhile, In spite of all that's occurring in his own country, Mexican President Felipe Calderon repeated his position that the U.S. market for drugs is feeding the violence in his country.
"I think there needs to be a little consistency in political policies," Calderon said during a meeting that included U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc.