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Redefining Terrorism: Why Mexican Drug Trafficking is More than Just Organized Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Strategic Security Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: November 2008 Pages: 35-51
Sylvia M. Longmire; John P. Longmire, IV
Date Published
November 2008
17 pages
This article develops the argument that the U.S. Government should formally recognize the Mexican drug cartels as the terrorists they are - or at least hybrid organizations that use terrorist tactics - so a more effective range of options could become available for combating the cartels and curtailing the violence that is engulfing the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Even as the situation has reached crisis proportions, the violence in Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to be addressed as a criminal problem. A new approach is needed that is based in redefining Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) as terrorist organizations. This would enable resources to be allocated differently and more effectively. The U.S. Government could choose to legally counter this threat with the U.S. military. A new definition of Mexican DTOs as terrorists would also open up avenues for providing assistance to Mexico in a fashion that is more diplomatically acceptable. Calling Mexican DTOs terrorist organizations would allow Mexico and the United States to engage in more aggressive actions against DTOs that could not be used against criminal organizations. A new definition might also assist in resolving some jurisdictional issues between law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border by moving issues between the United States and Mexico to forums at Federal levels. This argument for defining Mexican DTOs as terrorist organizations in order to free up more resources to counter them is based on the tactics they are using. This includes assassinations of criminal justice and government officials, the use of grisly executions in order to intimidate their opponents, the use of kidnappings, and the use of high-powered assault weapons. Their tactics are intended to induce fear and opponents' submission to their will. 43 notes