Mexican cartels’ war on Americans: The fentanyl crisis should be on Biden’s agenda at the summit


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Enough to kill every American. That’s the number of lethal doses of fentanyl seized by the DEA in 2022 — a total of 379 million.

As shocking as this number is, it’s not surprising: Over the past decade, fentanyl-related deaths in Americans have increased 4,860% and will peak at more than 80,000 in 2021.

This is not just an addiction epidemic. This is a national security crisis – a silent war against America’s most vulnerable, using poison as its weapon of choice.

Cartels work with China to target vulnerable Americans, lace additional drugs with fentanyl to increase addiction levels, and hide fentanyl in fake pain, anxiety and ADHD medications.

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This deliberate attempt to spread drug addiction and death is increasingly affecting American teenagers, whose overdoses due to these practices have doubled since 2019.

Part of this explosive growth is the rise of cartels. These criminal gangs now control, at least in part, 70 percent of Mexico’s territory, leading to some of the highest homicide rates in Mexican history.

Unfortunately, Mexico’s current “hug, not bullet” approach to security is ineffective in curbing this trend. Crime is carried out with impunity, with only 1.3% of cases opened in Mexico and attacks on journalists on par with war-torn Syria and Afghanistan.

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Meanwhile, Mexico is experiencing a similar democratic backsliding. Venezuela under Hugo Chávez. As in Venezuela, Mexico is increasingly expanding the scope of the Mexican military, deploying them to oversee social programs, militarizing the police force, and effectively turning the military into the president’s political base. The combination of violence, corruption and human rights abuses is a petri dish for cartel drug smuggling and increased power.

On Monday, President Biden will be in Mexico to attend the annual summit of North American leaders, where he will meet with the presidents of Mexico and Canada. Despite tens of thousands of deaths due to our open border, Biden inexplicably described his priorities during the summit as “climate and environment, migration, diversity and inclusion.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, June 20, 2022.
(Reuters/Edgard Garrido/File photo)

Security cooperation should be our only priority.

If we have any hope of reducing the amount of fentanyl that kills Americans, President Biden must make addressing the drug crisis a national priority. We cannot turn a blind eye to our fellow Americans who are victims of drug abuse. They, like all Americans, have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and the powers of our national project we strive to ensure these rights.

I was at the Border and this is my message to President Biden

The Summit is an important opportunity to do just that. Only with the strong and reliable cooperation of the Mexican security forces can we effectively limit the flow of drugs. Unfortunately, this partnership has declined in recent years due to Mexico’s 2020 foreign agency law. We must reverse this trend and make clear that stopping the cartels is a direct national security priority for the United States and Mexico.

This is especially true as Mexico itself begins to experience fentanyl-related addiction and death, and cartel violence threatens democratic processes and has led to the assassination of high-ranking officials. In recent days, President López Obrador has arrested Ovidio Guzmán, the son of drug kingpin El Chapo, and placed a siege on the cartel-infested state of Sinaloa. President Biden should emphasize that such steps are not a one-time signal before the upcoming summit, but the beginning of a new security approach for Mexico.

Biden should also hold Mexican government officials accountable at the state level for drug trafficking, including by expanding the use of the Kingpin Act to target officials who condone or turn a blind eye to cartel activity. The Guacamaya hack, which contained military-held data on local mayors’ ties to cartels in Mexico, was mined for information and combined with existing US intelligence on Kingpin markings and the “discretionary cancellation” of non-immigrant visas need

Brazilian immigrant families walk through a gap in the border wall as they cross from Mexico to Yuma, Arizona, to seek asylum on June 10, 2021.

Brazilian immigrant families walk through a gap in the border wall as they cross from Mexico to Yuma, Arizona, to seek asylum on June 10, 2021.
((AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File))

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Of course, Biden needs us to invest more in border security, customs inspections at our ports where most drugs enter the United States, and end what has been our open border policy. In 2022, cartels earned an astronomical $13 billion from smuggling immigrants, up from $12.5 billion four years earlier. This money serves to fuel violence and drug addiction on both sides of the border.

Mexican cartels are waging a deliberate campaign against American citizens — a campaign that has killed more Americans in one year than were killed on 9/11, Pearl Harbor, and every war of the last 30 years. The United States must deploy every resource at its disposal to stop it. Hundreds of thousands of American lives depend on it.

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