South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is planning to introduce legislation that would allow the U.S. to use military force against Mexico in order to crack down on drug cartels.
Speaking to Fox News’ Jesse Watters, Graham urged the U.S. to “get tough” on Mexico after four American citizens were kidnapped in northeastern Mexico on March 4. Officials believe the kidnapping was a case of mistaken identity, with members of a Mexican cartel thinking the U.S. citizens were Haitian drug smugglers.
The kidnapping has prompted outrage from Republicans who accuse the Biden administration of failing to crack down on the Mexican drug trade and sufficiently prevent opioids such as fentanyl entering the U.S. from the southern border.
When asked by Watters how he would deal with the kidnapping of the U.S. citizens, Graham backed former Attorney General Bill Barr’s recent suggestion of designating the drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on August 05, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
“I would follow Bill Barr’s advice and get tough on Mexico,” he responded. “It’s not just the hostages. Number one, I’d do everything I could to get them back. I’d do what Trump did. I’d put Mexico on notice,” Graham said.
“If you continue to give safe haven to fentanyl drug dealers, then you’re an enemy of the United States.”
Graham added that “70 to 100,000” people have died from fentanyl poisoning coming from Mexico and China while accusing the Biden administration of doing “nothing about it.”
“I’m going to introduce legislation to make certain Mexican drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations under U.S. law and set the stage to use military force if necessary to protect America from being poisoned by things coming out of Mexico,” Graham said.
“I would tell the Mexican government, ‘If you don’t clean up your act, we’re gonna clean it up for you.'”
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 71,238 deaths from fentanyl in the U.S. in 2021. This is a 23 percent increase from the 57,834 fentanyl-related deaths that occurred in 2020 during the final year of the Trump administration.
While fentanyl deaths have increased under the Biden administration, it is a continuation of the trend from when Trump was president, with more than 36,000 fentanyl-related deaths in the U.S. occurring in 2019.
Fact-checking websites have also said there is no evidence to Republican claims that the Biden administration’s border policies have resulted in an increase in fentanyl deaths.
In 2022, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper claimed in his book that Trump raised the possibility of firing missiles into Mexico to stop drug cartels. Esper added that the former president said the plan could work as “no one would know it was us” and therefore could keep it a secret.
“We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,” Trump said, according to Esper’s book.