Congressman Roy introduces legislation to designate cartels as terrorist organizations

April 15, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), along with over 30 of his House Colleagues, introduced legislation to designate cartels as Foreign Terror Organizations under federal law.

The “Drug Cartel Terrorist Designation Act,” would formally designate the Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel and the Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under federal law. It would also require the State Department to issue a report to congress on additional cartels that meet the criteria for FTO designation and require the department to designate them as such within 30 days of the report.

“To anyone remotely familiar with the brutal tactics and extensive operations that cartels use on both sides of our southern border every single day, there is absolutely no question that they should be described, designated, and treated as terrorists. These are people who hang, behead and burn people alive to threaten and control government officials and Mexico and they are starting to bring those dangerous tactics here to the United States,” said Congressman Roy. “These criminal organizations endanger American citizens, our Mexican neighbors, and the immigrants who seek to come here. They treat human beings like cattle, trafficking them — as well as deadly narcotics — across our border and through our communities every single day for profit. To make matters worse, they’re growing even more powerful, wealthy, and brazen as a result of this administration’s self-inflicted border crisis. We need to get serious, treat cartels like the terrorists they are, and give law enforcement even more tools to bring them down.”

As a House freshman, Congressman Roy was the first member of either chamber of Congress to call for FTO designation of cartels. This year’s legislation is the only bill before Congress that specifically designates cartels as FTOs within the text.

The Reynosa/Los Metros faction of the Gulf Cartel — which has operational control of Reynosa, Mexico and the surrounding areas just across the border from McAllen, Texas — is known for their profit model that relies on smuggling and trafficking migrants. The Cartel Del Noreste faction of Los Zetas, based just over the border from Laredo, Texas is also known for exploiting the unsecured border of the United States and beheading, torturing, and killing those that cross them.

FTO designations provide for additional “tools” for law enforcement and national security authorities to take action, including by providing additional investigative and intelligence resources and sanction capabilities.

For example, FTO designation would:

  • Make it unlawful for any person who knowingly provides “material support or resources” to the cartel to enter the United States.
  • Prevent any member of a designated cartel from legally entering the United States.
  • Allow the Secretary of the Treasury to block all assets possessed or controlled by the cartels.

Original cosponsors of the bill include Reps: Mark Green (TN-7), Michael Cloud (TX-27), Lance Gooden (TX-5), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Pat Fallon (TX-4), Louie Gohmert (TX-1), Kay Granger (TX-12), August Pfluger (TX-11), Randy Weber (TX-14), Roger Williams (TX-25), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Kevin Brady (TX-8), Van Taylor (TX-3), John Carter (TX-31), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Jody Hice (GA-10), Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Clay Higgins (LA-3), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Ralph Norman (SC-5), Dan Bishop (NC-9), Ted Budd (NC-13), Greg Murphy (NC-3), Jeff Duncan (SC-3), Tom Tiffany (WI-7), Scott Perry (PA-10), Andy Biggs (AZ-5), Yvette Harrell (NM-2), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Ken Buck (CO-4), and Mary Miller (IL-15).

“Thanks to President Biden hanging out a welcome sign at our southern border, drug cartels are raking in $14 million each day moving trafficked people and illicit contraband into our country. These cartels use barbaric tactics similar to ISIS and al Qaeda to torture and massacre innocents, destabilize countries, and assassinate law enforcement officers,” Said Rep. Mark Green. “The least we can do is designate these cartels as a Foreign Terrorist Organization so that our law enforcement and national security authorities have the tools they need to act.”

“The cartels are wreaking havoc at our southern border, smuggling drugs, innocent children, and known terrorists into America,” said Rep. Lance Gooden. By designating them foreign terrorist organizations, we can equip our law enforcement and armed forces with the tools needed to stop these criminals.”

“The Biden Administration is essentially aiding and abetting cartels by allowing them to grow into a force that destabilizes Central and South American nations, abuses woman and children, and funnels illegal drugs into our country,” said Rep. Michael Cloud. “Designating cartels as foreign terrorist organizations will allow law enforcement to pursue more of an “all-of-the-above” approach in combatting cartels’ criminal activities. I thank Congressman Roy for his work on this important issue.”

Full text of the legislation is available here.