Taking on Ohio’s opioid epidemic, Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) championed the passage of legislation that would encourage the federal government to designate certain transnational criminal organizations (TCO), commonly known as cartels, and based in Mexico, as foreign terrorist organizations.
Wiggam described HCR 10 as an effort to address the ongoing opioid epidemic confronting Ohio. “It is well established that our country’s southern border presents a significant challenge in our fight against the opioid epidemic in that drug cartels are responsible for the flow of opioids across the border into the United States, and into Ohio. As we continue to see our fellow citizens suffer from addiction, it is imperative that we do what we can to address the problem at its source. We can no longer sit idly by while an influx of opioids crosses our borders and kills our citizens.”
In addition to the influx of opioids, these criminal organizations are also responsible for the proliferation of human trafficking in our country and state, an issue which goes hand in hand with the opioid epidemic. Human and drug trafficking are key threats to Ohio’s economy, well-being, and overall vitality.
Data shows that the vast majority of women who are trafficked have also been forced into opiate addiction so that they are complaint with their traffickers. A recent report from the Cincinnati Enquirer noted that more than 1,030 juveniles were victims of human trafficking between 2014 and 2016, and that another 4,309 youths were at risk of being trafficking victims. The Mexican-based drug cartels control the majority of the flow of opioids and other illicit drugs into this country and into our state.
Derek S. Matlz a 28-year career veteran as a Special Agent in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is actively involved in the private sector supporting law enforcement agencies around the world as they aggressively target TOC networks causing death and destruction in communities around the world. Matlz testified that the Mexican cartels are one of the TOC biggest threats to the United States.
“The Mexican TCO’s are a tremendous threat to public health, safety and national security. In my view based on experience, the Mexican TCO’s are one of the greatest criminal threats to America. Mexican drug cartels dominate the drug business in the United States and are operating in over 50 countries around the world and most cities in the United States. They operate like a fortune 500 company in many ways but employ devastating violence as well. They have major hubs in Southern California, Arizona, Chicago, Texas, New York and Atlanta. The cartels also expanded into South Florida as they developed a huge customer market with their high purity products that are killing Americans at an unprecedented level.
The major cartels that have the most substantial impact in America are the Sinaloa, Jalisco New Generation, Gulf, Juarez, Los Zetas and the Beltran Leyva enterprise.
In my view, the Sinaloa and the Jalisco New Generation cartels are currently the most influential in Mexico and have a very large operation in the U.S. Even though Chapo Guzman was convicted on all counts and will spend his life in prison, the Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels remain a huge threat and seem to be growing daily as migrants are walking across the porous border establishing cartel business in U.S. cities like Columbus, Ohio. The bad guys are taking full advantage of the antiquated laws that make no sense.”
The Mexican-based drug cartels control the majority of the flow of opioids and other illicit drugs into this country and into our state. The cartels control large swaths of territory in Mexico to cultivate and produce these drugs and then transport them across the border.
A Columbus Dispatch headline tells the story, “Ohio is ground zero in the fight against opioid abuse.” The article states, “Fayette County, 40 miles southwest of Columbus, has the seventh-highest number of fentanyl overdose deaths per capita in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed by the Washington Post.”
Wiggam said, “This resolution expresses the desire of the State of Ohio to have the Federal Government designate transnational organizations based in Mexico as Foreign Terrorist Organizations pursuant to 8 USC 1189, to allow the government of the United States to use appropriate means to eliminate and/or mitigate the operations of these organizations which have such a profound negative impact upon the wellbeing of our state.
By designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, the Federal Government would have at its disposal, if it so chooses, enhanced intelligence capabilities, the ability to freeze financial assets of the cartels, the ability to pursue those who provide material support to the cartels, and if necessary, enhanced military options.”
In December, at the request of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador President Trump delayed designating certain Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations.
A recent Wall Street Journal article states, “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, under pressure from the Trump administration, has beefed up his strategy to fight drug cartels, including bringing the marines, Mexico’s elite security force, back to the front lines of the drug war. The moves mark a shift by Mexico from a counter narcotics strategy that largely ended the pursuit of high-profile arrests and focused almost exclusively on poverty alleviation.”
Representative Wiggam responds to these updates stating, “I appreciate that President Trump is working these issues out and I am pleased the President of Mexico has taken this action. Our law enforcement is doing the best job it can to address the TOC out of Mexico and although they are doing a great job we need all the help we can get to deal with these criminal organizations that have no boundaries. I would be encouraged if there is a way for the President to move forward. I think it is important to note that the majority of elected officials voted to as the President to go after these cartels.”