Florida AG slams Biden after White House says no need to designate cartels as terrorists
Thu, Mar 9, 2023 4:43 PM
By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called President Joe Biden “trafficker-in-chief” Thursday in response to a White House spokesperson saying there's no need to designate Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, "Designating these cartels as FTOs would not grant us any additional authorities that we don't really have at this time. The United States has powerful sanctions authorities specifically designated to combat narcotics trafficking organizations and the individuals and entities that enable them."
Jean-Pierre added: "In the last few months alone Treasury has announced a series of actions against cartels that are dangerous to the public safety and we have also taken action that further enables Treasury to sanction foreign persons," referring to the Treasury Department sanctioning members of the CJNG cartel and several Mexican companies linked to it last week, and sanctioning Sinaloa Cartel members and Mexican companies last month.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares led a coalition of 22 attorneys general last month calling on the president to designate the cartels as FTOs. Last September, Moody also led a coalition of 18 attorneys general calling on Biden to designate fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. In September, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order designating the Sinaloa and CJNG cartels as FTOs and called on the president to do the same. None received a response, until Jean-Pierre's comments Wednesday.
In response, Abbott tweeted Thursday, “Texas designated Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations last year. I've repeatedly urged Biden to do the same. Now, 2 Americans were shot & killed by cartels just across the Texas border. It's past time for Biden to step up & call these cartels what they are: terrorists.”
Abbott's press office also confirmed that he hasn’t heard from the president since he hand-delivered a border security plan to him in January listing five actions Biden could take to immediately secure the border.
Moody tweeted the president is now “Trafficker-in-Chief” citing his failure to secure the border, enabling human and drug trafficking facilitated by Mexican cartels.
In a statement emailed to The Center Square, she said the president “preventing the Mexican drug cartels from being designated federal terrorist organizations (which they are) [is] further evidence that he is the Trafficker-in Chief.”
She thanked Florida’s senior U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, for introducing the Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act, which Moody said will “do the job Biden refuses to do – protect the American people.”
The senators filed the bill on Wednesday to formally designate four Mexican cartels as FTOs: the Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel, Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa cartel. The bill would prohibit individuals from entering the U.S. who knowingly provide “material support or resources” to these cartels. It also would ban any foreign citizen from entering the U.S. who are members of the designated cartels, or are formally associated with them or who have “engaged in terrorist activity” relating to them.
“For too long, Biden’s botched border policies have prioritized criminals and cartels over legal immigration and Americans’ safety," Scott said. "Dictators, cartels and bad guys around the world know that Biden is a weak appeaser with open border policies. They’re taking full advantage by trafficking evil drugs like fentanyl across the southern border, poisoning our communities and killing our loved ones. Those who knowingly distribute these highly lethal drugs are declaring war on Americans and deserve to be held accountable and classified as the terrorists they are.”
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who joined the attorneys general coalitions, told The Center Square, “The Biden administration’s response to the border crisis has been feckless and an abject failure – and Americans are dying as a result. … President Biden must take stronger action to secure the border and protect Americans, and he needs to do it now.”
Mexican cartels are “assassinating rivals and government officials, ambushing, and killing Americans at the border, and engaging in an armed insurgency against the Mexican government,” the coalition argues. “This dangerous terrorist activity occurring at our border will not abate unless we escalate our response.”
Earlier this year, Biden said his plan to address the fentanyl crisis involved having “more drug detection machines,” implementing greater inspection of cargo to “stop pills and powder [coming in through] the border,” “working with couriers, like FedEx, to inspect more packages for drugs,” and implementing “strong penalties to crack down on fentanyl trafficking.”