Small Wars Journal

El Chapo Bin Laden? Why Drug Cartels Are Not Terrorist Organisations

El Chapo Bin Laden? Why Drug Cartels Are Not Terrorist Organisations by Paul Rexton Kan – International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague

Drug cartel violence in Mexico took an ominous turn late last year. Mexican authorities captured Oxidio Guzman Lopez, the son of imprisoned Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, but were forced to release him after the cartel unleashed a wave of violence in the city. Heavily armed cartel enforcers took soldiers hostage, attacked the living quarters of their family members, torched vehicles and took over roads while prisoners in a nearby penitentiary rioted and escaped. The daylong siege left eight dead and gave a black eye to Mexico’s new president. A few short weeks later, a different drug cartel ambushed an American Mormon family in northern Mexico, killing six children and three women.

The increase in the scope and intensity of the violence in Mexico has led to stronger calls to label drug cartels as foreign terrorist organisations. US President Donald Trump said that he would “absolutely” designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organisations. “You know, designation is not that easy, you have to go through a process, and we are well into that process,” Trump said in a November radio interview. President Trump is not alone. Ioan Grillo, a journalist and longtime observer of Mexico’s drug violence agrees that drug cartels have crossed over into terrorism: “[Cartels] kill innocent civilians for broader goals, including pressuring the government and controlling political territory.” Although President Trump ultimately decided against designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organisations, 2019 was not the only time that there was momentum for labeling drug trafficking organisations as terrorist groups. In 2011 and 2012, bills were introduced in the US House of Representatives seeking to designate seven Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organisations…

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Categories: El Centro