President Donald Trump told Breitbart News on Monday that his administration is thinking “very seriously” about labeling violent Mexican drug cartels, or factions of these cartels, as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
Asked by Deputy Political Editor Amanda House during a wide-ranging, exclusive Oval Office interview with Breitbart News whether his administration is considering designating factions of cartels, or cartels as a whole, as terrorist groups, Trump replied that he is.
“We are. We are,” Trump said. “We’re thinking about doing it very seriously. In fact, we’ve been thinking about it for a long time.”
“It’s psychological, but it’s also economic,” Trump continued. “As terrorists — as terrorist organizations, the answer is yes. They are.”
The president went on to discuss the violence taking place in Mexico.
“Mexico, unfortunately, has lost control of the cartels,” Trump said. “They’ve totally lost control of the cartels. Mexico last year had 42,000 deaths — murders — 42,000. It’s considered one of the most unsafe countries in the world.”
“Now, I’m with them. I really like the new president. He’s a wonderful guy, but you know, 42,000 murders. A lot of it is drug-induced,” Trump continued.
Recalling his recent trips to the border in January and February, the president commented on how little media attention the horrors on the border receive, stating:
When I was down on the border in Rio Grande three weeks ago, they had 26 people killed right near where I was. And it was a gang fight, and they were buried on the site. That was right near the area that I was at. The papers don’t even write about it. You know, did you read about the 26 people killed? You don’t even read about it.
Back in January, Trump visited McAllen, Texas, and toured the border with Texas Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX). In nearby Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, in Mexico, just about a two-hour drive away from McAllen, at about the same time, as Breitbart News’ Cartel Chronicles team reported then, cartel violence that resulted in two large-scale gun battles claimed the lives of 30 people. The Cartel Chronicles team of Breitbart News published several graphic photographs of the aftermath of the gun battles.
Later, in February, Trump held a rally in El Paso, Texas, in the El Paso Sector of the border. Breitbart News’ Cartel Chronicles team has published many examples of gruesome violence in Mexico near El Paso, including an October 2018 report from Robert Arce on the discovery of six decapitated bodies by authorities in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Just this week, Arce followed up with another report on how three state police officers in Chihuahua were killed in a cartel ambush by drug cartel gunmen. The attack also left five cartel gunmen dead.
In February, U.S. Representatives Chip Roy (R-TX) and Dr. Mark Green (R-TN) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting specific Mexican cartel factions be designated as FTOs.
Numerous drug cartels employ terrorist tactics that clearly fit this definition, such as the Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel, the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel offshoot of the Sinaloa Cartel. These groups use terror to intimidate and to advance their agenda. They threaten the stability of governments across the globe. Even the United Nation’s Security Council has recognized the clear link between drug trafficking and terrorism.
Many drug cartels are based in Latin America, regions of which have seen decades of ruthless violence. According to a Congressional Research Service report, since 2006 there have been roughly 150,000 organized crime-related killings in Mexico alone. Additionally, Mexico’s Citizen’s Council for Public Security lists that forty-two of the fifty most violent cities in the world are in Latin America. Many of these cities are more dangerous than war zones. Drug cartels have committed heinous acts of terrorism, from carrying out bombings that have killed innocent people, conducting ISIS-style beheadings, assassinating government officials and members of law enforcement, and engaging in torture and indiscriminate murder.
Back in late January, too, Director of Breitbart’s Border and Cartel Chronicles projects Brandon Darby and Breitbart Border reporter Idelfonso Ortiz reported exclusively that an actual terrorist who had served time in a Mexican prison for bombing of a U.S. consulate in Mexico had taken the reins of a major drug cartel:
A verified and convicted terrorist who attacked a U.S. Consulate with a grenade and automatic rifle fire has taken over the ruthless Los Zetas cartel, a group headquartered at the Texas border in the Nuevo Laredo-Laredo metropolitan border area. Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, sits immediately across the border from Laredo, Texas, and is the only urban location along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border that does not have any fencing or constructed security barrier of any kind. The convicted terrorist, Hector Raul Luna Luna, is known as “El Tory” and was convicted in the 2008 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico. He was released from prison due to bribes paid by Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) and has now taken over the dominant faction of Los Zetas, Cartel Del Noreste (CDN), to open up the lucrative and unsecured border corridor into Texas.
It remains to be seen what will happen from here but now the ball is in the administration’s court on what to do with the cartels.
In response to a follow-up question from Breitbart News’ Senior White House Correspondent Charlie Spiering, though, President Trump said the establishment media in America is at least beginning to acknowledge the crisis that is on the border–despite the lack of coverage of cartel violence on both sides of the border.
“By the way, I can’t believe it. They’re finally starting to admit it,” Trump said when Spiering noted that some in the media are finally admitting that there is a crisis on the border. “But I was there 4 weeks ago, 26 people were killed and I didn’t see one story about it. It’s pretty incredible. But you’re right though, I can’t believe it. I actually saw in the Washington Post and the New York Times over the last couple of days.”
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour
Alexander Marlow is the Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart News, Matthew Boyle is the Washington Political Editor of Breitbart News, Amanda House is the Deputy Political Editor of Breitbart News, and Charlie Spiering is the Senior White House Correspondent for Breitbart News.