(CNSNews.com) -- The National Sheriffs Association (NSA), which represents more than 3,000 elected sheriffs nationwide, called on Congress this week to use every tool it can to "degrade, undermine and eliminate the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico."
“The nation’s sheriffs strongly support the American people’s continued demand that our federal government use whatever means appropriate to combat these deadly cartels,” said Sheriff Jim Skinner, chairman of the National Sheriffs’ Association Government Affairs Committee, in a statement.
“Without clear, determined and strong action against the Mexican cartels and their partners, we are witnessing the destruction of our families and communities," he added. "We must use the means necessary to undermine the cartels now.”
The NSA said the biggest problem is the smuggling of dangerous drugs into the U.S. by a number of Mexican cartels, especially the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
Along with the narcotics comes corruption, human smuggling, violence and murder. The drugs themselves, particularly the synthetic opioid fentanyl, are responsible for more than 107,000 overdose deaths between August 2021 and August 2022, according to the CDC.
"The Alliance is focused on the death and destruction caused by the cartels’ organized manufacturing and smuggling of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other illicit drugs," said the sheriff's statement.
The organization also noted the kidnapping of four Americans in northern Mexico in late February, and the murder of two of those Americans.
"This crime recalls the Juarez Cartel’s brutal murder of six women and three children who were members of the La Mora community in 2019," said the NSA. "The victims held dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship. The cartels’ turf wars and related murders are infamous, and these murders also victimize the people of Mexico. Simply put, the cartels are the enemy of good people on both sides of the border."
"New initiatives in Congress are calling on the U.S. government to use more determined tools to degrade, undermine and eliminate the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico," said the sheriffs. "NSA applauds these efforts and asks Congress to use its broad legislative authorities to build a comprehensive system of manpower and other tools to prevent illicit drugs from being produced, smuggled, and sold on American streets."
Several U.S. senators have called on the State Department to use its authority to declare the Mexican cartels Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs). This would give the U.S. government authority to deploy the military against the cartels and their drug labs, and also employ means to track and seize the cartels' finances.
In a Feb. 8, 2023 letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 21 state attorneys general called for classifying the cartels as FTOS. They also wrote, "The Mexican drug cartels threaten our national security beyond the sale of these deadly drugs. Over the past decade, Mexican drug cartels have developed well-organized armed forces to protect their reprehensible trade from rivals and from the Mexican government."
"The existence of such forces just across our southwestern land border, and the Mexican government’s inability to control them, pose a threat to our national security far greater than a typical drug-trafficking enterprise," said the attorneys general.
The letter also notes that DEA Administrator Anne Milgram has declared, "fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever faced," and that the Washington Post has reported, “an estimated 196 Americans are now dying each day from the drug -- the equivalent of a fully loaded Boeing 757-200 crashing and killing everyone on board.”
On March 9, 2023, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador fired back at U.S. lawmakers. “Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” claimed López Obrador. “Why don’t they [United States] take care of their problem of social decay?”
"We deeply lament what's happening in the United States -- but why don't they fight the problem ... and more importantly why don't they take care of their youth?" said the Mexican president.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), in an interview with NPR, said, "Clearly the president of Mexico doesn't care that 70, 000 people died of fentanyl overdose in America last year.... He's allowed his border to be controlled by the cartels and he doesn't care."
According to its statement, the National Sheriffs Association, which was founded 82 years ago, "is one of the largest non-profit associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and with a total membership of approximately 10,000 individuals."