Drummond urges Biden to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 8, 2023) – Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has joined a coalition of 21 states, led by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, urgently calling on President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) under federal law.

The designation would free up much-needed resources to confront the deadly opioid crisis, which has reached unparalleled heights under the current administration. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses — and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than half.

“This crisis must be addressed immediately,” Drummond said. “Designating Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations will allow us to fight this scourge with the serious approach that it desperately deserves. The United States government must take action immediately in order to help combat this deadly threat to families throughout the country.”

In the letter sent today, Drummond explained that the U.S. government knows precisely how these drugs are entering the country. Cartels like the Sinaloa cartel and Cartel Jalisco New Generation import raw materials from China, use them to produce deadly synthetic opioids at low cost, and traffic those poisons across the southwestern border and into U.S. communities. Between October 2021 and June 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 8,425 pounds of fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. In addition to smuggling fentanyl into the country, cartels are assassinating rivals and government officials, ambushing and killing Americans at the border and engaging in an armed insurgency against the Mexican government.

In Oklahoma, the increasing number of fatal fentanyl overdoses during the past several years has been astonishing. From 54 deaths in 2019 to 299 deaths in 2021, Oklahoma saw a 454-percent increase in fentanyl overdoses resulting in fatalities. While data from 2022 is not yet complete, 220 deaths were recorded between Jan. 1 and June 30, meaning this crisis continues to spiral out of control.

Designating major cartels as FTOs will give state and federal law enforcement agencies increased authority to freeze cartel assets, deny entry to cartel members and allow prosecutors to pursue stricter punishments against those who provide them material support.

In addition to Oklahoma, Attorney General Miyares’ letter was joined by the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.