Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is leading the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives to be able to officially treat international drug cartels as terrorist organizations under federal law, something that President Donald Trump has recently expressed as a priority of his.
Byrne announced on Friday that he, along with Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), has introduced the Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act.
This legislation would create a new federal designation, “Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs),” which has more stringent sanctions than the existing transnational criminal organization designation. The penalties for Significant TCOs would mirror many of the penalties for entities currently designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including sanctions on organization members and their families, travel restrictions and increased penalties for American citizens who grant them material assistance.
In a statement, Byrne said, “We should not have to tolerate transnational criminal organizations exporting drugs and violence into our country.”
“This bill will enhance our ability to come after these groups and keep our communities and citizens safe at home and abroad. Congress should rally behind this effort and show these groups that there are severe consequences for their actions,” he advised.
This comes after nine dual U.S.-Mexico citizens were viciously slain by cartel members in northern Mexico on November 4.
Sanctions the federal government would be able to impose on Significant TCOs under Byrne’s legislation include:
- Barring organization members and their immediate families from admission into the United States
- Freezing assets
- Seeking civil and criminal penalties against individuals providing material assistance or resources to the organization.
The bill also would require the president to submit a report to Congress detailing the government’s findings from the November 4 attack, including whether the cartel responsible should be designated as a Significant TCO.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced the Senate version of Byrne’s bill.
Alabama has also had its problems with cartel-related violence and crime.
Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) has advised that the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for “almost all” drugs imported into the Yellowhammer State. That cartel is headquartered in Culiacán, Mexico.
Just two weeks ago, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office took down two suspected Mexican cartel members in a major firearms and drug bust in the Birmingham metropolitan area.
Then, of course, there are the more shocking examples from the recent past, such as when cartel members in Alabama stabbed a grandmother to death and then beheaded her 13-year-old Huntsville granddaughter.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn