An unnamed Mexican national was arrested by US Customs and Border Patrol Saturday with enough fentanyl — 114 kilograms of fentanyl, 1 kilogram of fentanyl pills, 179 kilograms of methamphetamine — to kill by some estimates 57 million people, prompting some conservative pundits and politicians to call for designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups.
The Border Patrol just seized enough fentanyl to kill millions of Americans. This was not just a drug bust—it was a dirty bomb coming across our southern border. https://t.co/k0DYXYKGdJ
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 31, 2019
The bust happened in Nogales after drug dogs and a secondary scan of a trailer carrying Mexican produce into Arizona alerted agents to a secret compartment in the floor.
Most of the seized fentanyl with an overall street value of about $3.5 million was in white powder form, but about 2 pounds of it (1 kilogram) was contained in pills. Agents also seized nearly 395 pounds (179 kilograms) of methamphetamine with a street value of $1.18 million, Humphries said.
“The size of a few grains of salt of fentanyl, which is a dangerous opioid, can kill a person very quickly,” Humphries said. The seizure, he said, had prevented an immeasurable number of doses of the drug “that could have harmed so many families.”
Fentanyl is one of the primary culprits in the opioid epidemic that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report “is now the drug most often involved in fatal overdoses across the country, accounting for more than 18,000, or almost 29 percent, of the 63,000 overdose fatalities in 2016.”
Part of the insidiousness of the illicit drug (legal fentanyl is used to treat cancer patients in severe pain) is that it can be made to resemble other, legal prescription medications that are much less potent and that can easily be sold on the street. Because of the number of deaths associated with fentanyl, some conservative pundits have begun calling for the drug to be considered a chemical weapon and the Mexican drug cartels (which operate in 50 countries around the world, including the U.S.) to be designated terrorist groups.
Daniel Horowitz writing at Conservative Review makes a compelling case (the entire thing should be read) for such a designation and says it will help local law enforcement combat what have become sophisticated crime and terror networks equipped with high-tech, military-grade weaponry and allies around the world.
According to [Jaeson Jones, who spent 24 years with Texas Department of Public Safety’s intelligence and counterterrorism division], most of these named cartels operate in 50 countries, including in Asia, Australia, and Europe. Our military could work not just with the Mexican government but with close allies around the world to disrupt their operations.
Jones warns that the threat from the cartels, in some ways, is worse than that of Islamic jihad in our hypothetical. “We are confronted with a new threat, one more sinister in many ways than Islamic terrorists around the world. They do not kill for political change or ideology. They kill for money and control. If our nation is to meet this 21st-century threat, then we must be willing to create a new arena of counterterrorism.”
Indeed, the brutality of the cartels is unrivaled anywhere in the world, and it’s right on our border and in our communities. Remember, all of the people coming into the U.S. from Central America are “brought into the culture of the [Mexican] cartels if they don’t have the money,” as Jones warned on my podcast last week. “When the Zetas were in strength, I can tell you times when they would have kill houses and be killing these people in mass numbers of 10 and 20 in a night and then taking their bodies, hanging them up, and putting mantras and signs on them to a rival cartel that ‘If you come into our area, this is what’s going to happen to you.’”
The cartel terrorism has gotten so bad that even the popular resorts with wealthy Americans, such as Cancun, are now unsafe for travel. Mexico has over 250,000 dead and 38,000 missing since 2007. Just from September 2017 to July 1, 2018, 132 politicians and candidates were murdered in Mexico leading up to the recent elections.
Indeed, there were reports this week of a dismembered body left as a warning in the popular (and at one time, safe) tourist destination of Cancun, Mexico. A picture of the body is out there, but I’ll spare readers by not linking it here. Suffice to say, it’s gruesome and underscores just how violent and serious the threat is at the border.
The argument is that by designating these groups as terrorists organizations, the Department of Defense can involve themselves in the crisis and the US military can begin to collaborate with other countries to take them out.
As a side note, and perhaps more related to this effort than it would appear at first glance, the US is deploying troops at the Southern border:
— Missy Ryan (@missy_ryan) January 30, 2019
While new freshman Democrats are making their own moves:
— Chris Pandolfo (@ChrisCPandolfo) January 31, 2019