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From the buzzards perspective...

Random articles that are created as I travel, experience new things, meet new people and discover new insights.

  • Writer's pictureEddy Weiss

Terrorism or Business?

Rep. Chip Roy (TX) joined 20 of his colleagues last week and reintroduced the “Drug Cartel Terrorist Act”. Seems like it makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, these groups are violent, pose a threat to America and Americans and are growing in size and force exponentially almost every day.

Before we go and designate the cartels as terrorist organizations, we should perhaps first give some thought to what a terrorist organization is, what are the goals of such an organization and how does a terrorist organization operate to make sure that the cartels meet the criteria.

According to the FBI, international terrorism is defined as violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups who are inspired by, or associated with, designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations (state-sponsored). The FBI then defines domestic terrorism as violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

You might be able to see the issue here right away. While groups like Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah and others certainly fit the definition of terrorists and therefore should be deemed terrorist organizations, I am having difficulty seeing how drug cartels fit the same criteria. While I want to see the cartels squashed into oblivion and their activities halted, there is some real threat analysis that needs to go into this decision of designation. At this time, with perhaps the exception of the Knights Templar, our current major cartels just do not fit the designation.

Furthermore, designating drug cartels as terrorist organizations could have some severe homeland security repercussions. I have to question who is advising these men and women in our current house and senate both that are pushing so hard for this without the analysis I spoke of.

The Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act comes on the heels of the attack on four Americans that wandered down into Mexico on a medical-tourism trip resulting in the loss of two lives after a brutal kidnapping by rogue cartel members. While the news covered this well, little was said about the American women that went down just weeks earlier and are still missing and even less is said about the 500 or so Americans that have gone missing in recent years without a trace.

The point I am making is that this proposal comes at a time when America is screaming for action and the wound is still fresh so one has to wonder if the lack of research put into this proposal is because it was thrown on the table quickly to appease the present anger of the populace.

The bill would formally designate the Gulf Cartel, Cartel Del Noreste, Cartel de Sinaloa and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

Let’s look again at the criteria.

The word “cartel” is an interesting one and as you all know by now, I love me my definitions.

“Cartel” is an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.

Now, let’s look at the FBI definition of terrorist group again. “Terrorist Organization” is an organization that commits violent, criminal acts to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

When Americans see cartels in the news or in a movie, they perceive these large groups of well-organized soldiers under the command of one leader. We see “El Chapo” characters sitting in mansions and overseeing the downfall of the United States, but in reality, the fall of the United States is the last thing any drug cartel wants to see; after all, we are their best customer.

You see, a cartel, by definition, is an organization created from a formal agreement between a group of producers of a good or service to control supply or to regulate or manipulate prices.

By further definition, a cartel is a collection of independent businesses that have chosen to act together like a single producer, cartel members may agree on prices, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid-rigging and the division of profits. Cartels are all competitors that all work in the same industry that have gathered together rather than destroy their market. Normally, the actions of cartels are easy to see as they hurt consumers through poor product, increased prices and lack of transparency.

Each present day cartel is a combination of gangs under one structure (the cartel) all working together as factions with a united front like the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (New Jalisco Generation Cartel) which is presently warring with other smaller cartels such as, La Union Tepito, La Familia Michoacana, Los Zetas, la Linea and several others. Soon I expect we will see the Jalisco cartel grow as they eat up these smaller cartels and their territories.

Now, are the drug cartels violent? I think we all know the answer to that. In early November 2019, nine dual U.S.-Mexican citizens were killed in Mexico in a terrifying attack by a cartel. Three women and six children, including two infants, were shot or burned alive in a three-car convoy near the U.S. border. Between 2006 and 2015, cartels were responsible for more than 70,000 murders, many of which were quite cruel and gruesome. But are they terrorists?

We could say that we now have another death toll on our hands; the 72,000 Americans dead of Fentanyl supplied by the cartels but were those deaths caused by an act of terrorism or commerce?

The answer of course is that the damage done by cartels is caused by commerce and the motivation of the cartels is almost one hundred percent financial. There are few political agendas when it comes to the cartels unless they are to control territory or to increase their influence through corruption of government agencies and law enforcement members. There are no ideologies in play, no religious causes or belief systems that are a catalyst in cartel activities. It is strictly criminal activity to generate money that in turn will become more fuel for further criminal activity.

Cartels are just that…cartels. Their goal is to control production of products as well as the transportation of those products while using criminal activity, supply and demand to control and drive up the prices of their products. They are excellent at marketing their products, at distribution and at finding new consumers and are just as adept at managing their own personnel and resources.

The truth is, today’s drug cartels are not terrorist organizations so unless the definition of “terrorist” and “terrorist organization” is to be changed, there is no call for the designation.

Now, so far it sounds like I am almost supporting the cartels or that I do not want the laws of our country enforced, the flow of fentanyl stopped and the deaths of Americans avenged. You would be wrong. Many years ago my own family fell victim to the cartels almost losing two family members who were kidnapped much like the Americans last week. My career has been peppered with deaths caused by cartel drugs and I have many colleagues on both sides of our overwhelmed border that fight for their lives every day because of the cartels.

Designating the drug cartels makes so much sense when it is suggested out loud, especially in the wake of last week’s events, but the designation needs to be the subject of analysis and you might be shocked to read what may be in the findings.

Designating terrorist organizations is among the most powerful tool the United States has in its arsenal to combat such groups. Remember the James Bond designation, “Licensed to kill”? This is similar in that the designation is a license of sorts that is given to the United States BY the United States.

The designation provides the United States with the legal resources necessary to deny individuals within the group the ability to immigrate into the United States, blocks the groups’ access to the financial system, and makes it possible to prosecute individuals who provide material support. Some of these measures, such as denying the drug cartels access to the financial system, are already in place and are being weaponized against the most important Mexican drug trafficking groups.

The designation would provide an incredible amount of leverage by expanding the range of individuals the U.S. government can prosecute for providing material support to any designated drug cartel, but at what cost?

Designating drug cartels as terrorist organizations would dilute the list of terrorist organizations to begin with as I picture the original Republican debates in 2015 when there were so many candidates one could hardly follow the speeches, ads or debates. With Homeland Security resources already maxing out, the designation would add literally tens of thousands of people to watch lists, to scrutiny, to investigations and to surveillance. The designation would not necessarily add to any budgets or homeland security anti-terrorism personnel numbers. The designation could literally crash our intelligence community like Taylor Swift tickets going up for sale on a small website.

Just because the designation is being proposed for the four major players does not mean that the designation would only encompass those groups. Because of the way that cartels operate, our intelligence and homeland security agencies would now be forced to watch other groups (remember, the designation encompasses support) such as Los Zetas, La Familia Michoacana, Knights Templar, Guadalahara Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel, Colima, Sonora, Los Antrax, South Pacific, Cartel de la Sierra, Cartel de La Calle, La Nueva Administracion, Tijuana, Oaxaca and…well, you get the picture don’t you?

This designation would dilute the ability of our security agencies to adequately use their resources against the groups they are currently focused on like ISIS, Harakat Sawa’d Misr, the IRGC, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, Ansar al-Shari’a, Ansaru, Boko Haram, Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi, AQ and others.

When one considers the scope of what this designation would entail in its execution, it is then easy to begin to see that the United States borders would become militarized very quickly. Incidents like last week’s push at the border would be viewed quite differently as a cartel posted online resulting in thousands pushing at the bridge in El Paso. Post-designation this would have been considered more a military movement by the cartels and would have required military response rather than response by CBP agents and law enforcement.

Militarizing the borders would immediately slow the flow of travel at our border crossings and would significantly affect commerce and our economy. When the Trump administration stated it was considering a similar action in 2019, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was categorical in his staunch opposition. The terrorist designation would, by any standard, heighten U.S.-Mexico tensions, potentially setting back relations with an important country during a crucial time, given the ongoing border crisis.

Before we designate the cartels as terrorist organizations we may want to consider another issue…

Imagine if you will a rumor on Facebook or Linkedin that known Hezbollah members have been seen in several communities. For the purpose of this little brain exercise, we will say that they were spotted in Boulder, Colorado, Columbus, Ohio, Winchester, Kentucky and Rockford, Illinois.

Days later, let’s imagine that the rumors are substantiated by news coverage and interviews with several government officials. Intelligence agencies report chatter that these terrorists are going to release something dangerous; something that could kill thousands of Americans.

What would the response be? What would the effect of this be on our school systems? What businesses would temporarily close? How would transportation be slowed if checkpoints were set up by military personnel in these regions or areas where the terrorists have been sighted? How overwhelmed would law enforcement be? If you lived in Boulder, Colorado or Winchester, Kentucky, what would YOU be doing?

Well, here is the thing. The cartels have members in all those places distributing fentanyl right now as I write this and I am positive while you read this.

If the U.S. takes the step to label Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups, the potential militarization that comes with such a designation could have substantial spillover and second-order effects on how Americans could be prosecuted.

Are you friends with someone dealing for a cartel and you don’t even know it? Is it your neighbor? The parents of your daughter’s boyfriend?

Let’s all admit and agree that what the cartels are doing and what they are selling to the American public is evil and needs to be stopped. Let’s hold hands of solidarity and say that we are sick and tired of what cartel drugs are doing to this country and that human trafficking has made us as angry as we can get. Let us all pray to God that there is a day of retribution coming for these psychotic hybrid criminal-business executives and that we get to see their final fall.

And then let’s get back to work. America needs leadership that will gather the greatest minds in our country to create the plan to combat these cartels and their activities. We need leadership that will create a new and energized, funded and supported border patrol while ignoring the rhetoric and whining. We need leadership that will give a crap rather than give in when actions should be taken. We need an America that is united in the ideals of homeland security and safety rather than splintered over issues like drag queens and statues. We need to stop thinking that every hill is the one worth dying for. We are in a battle to preserve what this country was and was supposed to be and we will lose if we do not start prioritizing what we march for and what we’ll die for.

These cartels are dangerous, deadly, evil and a blight on mankind, but they are not terrorists. They are businesses that we have willingly supported for much too long and we need to come up with a plan that accomplishes the goal of putting an end to their reign of criminal activity while preserving our lives and future generations here in the United States.

America’s love of drugs fuels the groups that we want to designate as terrorists. We have begged for the bombing. We have sought after the sabotage. We have paid hard cash for the experience of being slaughtered. As of right now, we are the consumer that needs to figure out how to not consume. Should we designate these cartels as terrorist organizations, we will then be the people that willingly, knowingly paid for the next terrorist attack.


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