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Mexican president: US military not allowed to fight drug cartels in Mexico

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (ProtoplasmaKid/WikiCommons)
December 02, 2019

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is not in agreement with U.S. President Donald Trump’s talk of designating cartels as terror groups and said the U.S. military won’t be allowed to enter Mexico.

Lopez Obrador said on Friday that his government is committed to fighting organized crime on its own terms without U.S. intervention, adding that “armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory,” according to Reuters.

Lopez Obrador sought to address concerns a U.S. move to designate the cartels as terrorists would also come with military action across the border. Rejecting U.S. intervention, he instead offered more cooperation with the U.S. to handle issues on both sides of the border.

While Trump’s plan to label Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) would give the U.S. the added ability to sanction their financial assets, it does not extend the authority for the U.S. to carry out military operations against those terrorist cartels.

Many Mexicans are reportedly against the idea of a U.S. military intervention.

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Trump has repeatedly offered U.S. military support to counter the drug cartels, while Lopez Obrador has continued to decline the offers.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency already has a close cooperation with the Mexican government and American planes routinely fly counter-narcotics missions, according to Military.com.

Lopez Obrador said his administration’s priority remains with disrupting the cash supply of cartels and stopping money laundering efforts. The Mexican Finance Ministry’s financial intelligence unit has reportedly frozen the bank accounts of 771 people and 1,057 companies, cutting off $274 million in assets.

Lopez Obrador is also focused on stopping illegal weapons trafficking into Mexico, from the U.S. side of the border.

Mexican officials have reportedly held several meetings with U.S. counterparts working to address the weapons trade. Those Mexican officials have suggested the progress for handling the issue has been “satisfactory.”

In his Friday statements, Lopez Obrador remained optimistic Trump would not move forward with any military operations.

“In the unlikely case that a decision is taken that we consider affects our sovereignty, then we will act within the framework of international law, but I see it as unlikely,” he said.

Trump raised the prospect of designating the cartels as FTOs in an interview last Tuesday with radio personality Bill O’Reilly. Trump did not offer details of what he planned to do after assigning the terror group designation.

O’Reilly asked if Trump would begin launching drone strikes on cartel locations after designating them as terrorist groups.

“I don’t want to say what I’m going to do, but they will be designated,” Trump replied.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is reportedly awaiting a visit by U.S. Attorney General William Barr to discuss security cooperation with the U.S.