Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is leading a coalition of 21 states, including Alaska, that are calling on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations under federal law. Doing so will free up resources to confront the deadly opioid crisis with the seriousness it deserves.
The opioid crisis has affected every state, county, city, town, and community in the United States, the group of top law officers said. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses—and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than half of those deaths.
In the letter sent Feb. 8, the attorneys general say that the federal government knows precisely how the drugs are entering the country. Cartels like the Sinaloa cartel and Cartel Jalisco New Generation import raw materials from China, use them to produce deadly synthetic opioids at low cost, and traffic those poisons across the southwestern border and into American communities.
Between October 2021 and June 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 8,425 pounds of fentanyl smuggled into the United States.
“These cartels are doing much more than just smuggling poison into the United States. They are assassinating rivals and government officials, ambushing and killing Americans at the border, and engaging in an armed insurgency against the Mexican Government,” the law officers said.
Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott designated two cartels — Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel — as foreign terrorist organizations, and asked the federal government to do the same. He asked the president that illicit fentanyl be designated a weapon of mass destruction. But in his State of the Union address, the president all but ignored the crisis at the border with Mexico and the flood of fentanyl coming over the border.
Federally designating major cartels as foreign terrorist organizations would give state and federal law enforcement agencies increased authority to freeze cartel assets, deny entry to cartel members, and allow prosecutors to pursue stricter punishments against those who provide them material support, the attorneys general wrote in their letter to the president.
Attorney General Miyares was joined by his counterparts in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.