Protect American Lives: Biden Administration Must Sanction Mexican Drug Cartels

(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

A new illicit drug trafficking threat emerging at the southern border should force the Biden administration to consider the impact their impending tobacco policies will have on the safety of Americans.


Recent reports have revealed concerning connections between Tobacco International Holdings (TIH), a company registered in Switzerland, and Mexico’s notorious Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). To address this issue effectively, the Biden administration needs to not only promptly impose sanctions on TIH and its associated entities, but it must also ensure that the tobacco policies they are promulgating don’t provide funds and fuel for increased cartel activity on our southern border.

With the expiration of Title 42, our already inundated border is only expected to get worse. The expected influx of migrants has even led the Biden administration to deploy national guard troops. But band-aid fixes are not sufficient, and it is past time that the Biden administration gets serious about addressing Mexican cartels that threaten Americans’ safety.

It’s absolutely crucial to confront transnational criminal organizations like CJNG head-on. These cartels undermine law and order, exploit vulnerable communities, and operate without fear of consequences. And they are using the profit from tobacco sales to do so.

Unfortunately, if the Biden administration moves forward with their expected menthol ban and Very Low Nicotine Content rule, it will only fuel this illicit market and make matters worse.


We cannot underestimate the economic implications of the tobacco market fueling cartels. The Mexican tobacco industry’s enormous $4 billion in annual sales in 2019 highlights the potential profits for CJNG’s fentanyl trafficking operations.

Imposing sanctions on TIH will disrupt CJNG’s current revenue stream, but we must also ensure that Biden’s tobacco policies aren’t leading to a more robust black market that these cartels can profit off of

By making illegal products that roughly 30 million American smokers use, which the VLNC rule would do, cartels will find an awaiting black market in the U.S. for tobacco products that they can take advantage of, and use those profits to fuel their other illicit activities.

Adding to the growing list of banned products would be irresponsible for an administration that’s incapable of enforcing its current regulations and securing our border. If the Biden administration has proved anything, it cannot keep illicit products off the market.

Flavored vaping devices have been illegal since former President Trump banned them in 2020, yet young people and consumers can find them in just about every convenience store and vape shop in America.


If they move forward with the Menthol ban and VLNC rule, these policies would further burden our overextended border patrol. With millions of smokers looking for replacement products, tobacco cartels would quickly work to meet the spike in demand.

The reported ties between TIH and CJNG demand immediate and determined action from the Biden administration. Recently, Sens Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rick Scott (F-FL), and Bill Hagerty have called on President Biden to prioritize the safety and well-being of American citizens by targeting TIH and its affiliated entities. By enacting sanctions and reversing expected tobacco policies, we can reduce the flow of illicit drugs into our communities and protect numerous American lives.


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