Mexican drug trafficking organizations (“MDTOs”) stimulus is profit, indistinct from political motivation that is characteristic of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (“FTOs”).Whilst there are similarities between the two groups in terms of the use of rampant intimidation and insurgency, MDTOs should not in way be designated by the US government as FTOs.
Why MDTOs should not be designated as FTOs
First, it must be recognized that the designation of MDTOs as FTOs may pose even worse consequences. Take into consideration, its effects on immigration. Once the Mexican cartels are designated as FTOs, the numerous asylum migrants who travel through Mexico to the USA border would be affected, instead of the cartel groups themselves. Most of these migrants must travel through the cartel territory to access the USA border, and because the cartels are usually involved in smuggling and trafficking operations, they may tax such migrants to pass through their territory, eventually the migrants might be forced to provide material support.
FTO designation would permit federal officers the capability to use two statutes in targeting cartel groups. This implies that even potential defendants who work with the cartels may be exposed and charged with criminal penalties. A migrant who involuntarily offered material support after he or she was taxed by a cartel may end up obtaining a severe penalty and yet he or she is not part of the cartel groups. FTO designations against cartel groups would have the dual effect of aiding the government in knowledge of prosecutions against their members, whilst also legalizing the charging decision through official declarations that the recipient organization participates in terrorist activity (Halliday & Veneski, 2020). Federal officers employing two statutes would charge extraterritorial jurisdiction defendants with criminal laws applicable only within the USA. In addition, to persons charged under the extraterritoriality provisions, the statues will expose persons under criminal charges to stricter penalties and multiple charges.
FTO designation can impede any negotiations to control cartel activities by the Mexican government. It would signal USA allies that counterterrorism is the most effective approach in dealing with criminals (Phillips, 2019).Particular states such as Mexico where the criminals are situated may be regarded as terrorist states. The USA will have added more rivals, and this would threaten its national security and criminal justice system. Moreover, it may cause strife between the two governments.
Implications on national security and criminal justice
Certain counter-terrorism tactics that may be applied to terrorists may be inefficient when dealing with transnational organized crimes. For example, the tactic of targeting a leader with the intent that after his capture or his death, criminal group operations would be halted may be effective when dealing with terrorists, but not criminal groups. This is because the group would later on select another leader, and this would cause even more violence resulting in multiple fatalities (EveryCRSReport.com).With FTO designation, sanctions would become redundant. Sanctions under section 1189 limit the designation of collaborators of FTOs, as opposed to the former act that extended its sanctions to affiliates of certain traffickers. Hence, designating MDTOs as FTOs would result in fewer sanctions than those formerly instituted.
Conclusively, the FTO designation would only offer federal officers with tools to address drug trafficking partially through material support charges. However, much will be at stake with the designation of MDTOs as FTOs, as immigration would be impacted negatively , the sanctions applied would be redundant and there is the possibility of national threat due to the addition of more rival states.
Halliday, E. and Veneski, C., 2020. What Happens If the Trump Administration Designates Drug Cartels as Terrorist Organizations?. [online] Available at: <https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-happens-if-trump-administration-designates-drug-cartels-terrorist-organizations> [Accessed 4 February 2021].
Phillips, B., 2019. Would Trump label Mexican cartels terrorist organizations?. [online] Available at: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/26/would-trump-label -mexican-cartels-terrorist-organizations/ > [Accessed 4 February 2021].
EveryCRSReport.com. Designating Mexican Drug Cartels as Foreign Terrorists: Policy Implications [online] Available at: https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/IN11205.html> [Accessed 4 February 2021].
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