The use of armed forces against drug cartels that traffic in fentanyl could lead to repercussions for cooperation with Mexico, warns a Pentagon official. Republican congressmen proposed a bill that would designate cartels as terrorist groups and permit the US military to fight them wherever they exist. Melissa G. Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, cautioned during a hearing before Congress that authorities must “weigh the advantages and disadvantages” of the proposal before acting, and understand the consequences for existing cooperation with Mexico. The state is sensitive about its sovereignty and may enforce reciprocal measures, said Dalton, who is travelling to Mexico to discuss intelligence, cybernetic and defense cooperation.
The death of two Americans kidnapped in Matamoros has fuelled the call to act against cartels. Senators Roger Marshall and Rick Scott’s proposed law names the Northeast, Gulf, Jalisco Nueva Generación, and Sinaloa cartels as terrorists. They prohibit members from entering US territory, authorise the blocking of their assets and transactions and penalise those who help them. Senators Lindsey Graham and John Neely Kennedy will submit another bill to label the same groups foreign terrorist organizations and authorise military force to destroy fentanyl production laboratories, responsible for around 70,000 American deaths last year. Though General Glen D. VanHerck stated he would follow orders, the decision is up to the Department of Homeland Security and Justice, not the Pentagon.