Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., co-introduced Wednesday's legislation, officially known as the Ending the Notorious, Aggressive and Remorseless Criminal Organizations and Syndicates, or NARCOS, Act. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
March 29 (UPI) -- Republican lawmakers Wednesday introduced new legislation aimed at designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
The legislation, officially known as the Ending the Notorious, Aggressive and Remorseless Criminal Organizations and Syndicates or NARCOS Act, was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Kennedy is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"We need to dismantle and disincentivize Mexico's cartels in every way possible. Designating these murderers as foreign terrorist organizations would give U.S. officials more tools to use in putting the cartels and the networks that support them behind bars," Kennedy said in a statement.
If passed, the legislation would see the formation of a task force targeting cartels and drug traffickers, including those bringing fentanyl into the United States.
"Americans are being killed on both sides of the border. And Americans are being addicted, certainly, on our side of the border -- killed, too," Kennedy said in specific reference to the deadly opioid.
The bill lists nine separate Mexican cartels that would be designated terrorist organizations under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
That list includes the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, once headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Guzman was arrested in 2014 and is currently serving a life sentence in a U.S. maximum-security prison in Florence, Colo.
Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden sanctioned four Sinaloa Cartel members and two businessmen because of alleged connections to both fentanyl and methamphetamine smuggling. The six men are accused of supplying chemicals to make the illicit drugs to so-called "super labs."
Wednesday's proposed legislation also targets the Los Zetas Cartel and Juaraz Cartel, as well as six others.
"Designating these cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations will be a game-changer. We will put the cartels in our crosshairs and go after those who provide material support to them, including the Chinese entities who send them chemicals to produce these poisons. The designation of Mexican drug cartels as FTOs is a first step in the major policy changes we need to combat this evil," Graham said in a statement.