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Rep. Crenshaw introduces bill to use military against Mexican cartels

Congressman Dan Crenshaw speaks at a Texas Public Policy Foundation event in Austin on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. (LOLA GOMEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN, TNS).
January 23, 2023

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has introduced a bill authorizing the use of military force against Mexican drug cartels in response to their deadly fentanyl trafficking and increasingly powerful arsenals.

If passed, the bill would allow for “all necessary and appropriate force” to be used against at least nine cartels. They include the Sinaloa Cartel once led by the now-imprisoned Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, as well as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a rising group known for especially brutal violence.

In a Fox News interview, Crenshaw said the looming threat of military intervention would give the president “leverage when trying to get the Mexican government to do its job.”

“We are at a point now where their resistance is not only hurting them, it’s killing our citizens,” he said. “We have to say enough is enough. … You’d better work with us, because we don’t want to do this without you, but we will.”

The bill comes as cheap and extremely potent fentanyl is increasingly being mixed with other drugs flowing into the U.S., fueling a spike in overdose deaths. Meanwhile, the Mexican drug cartels that traffic a large portion of it across the border are continuing to grow in power.

READ MORE: Cartel lays siege to Mexican city after recapture of the son of ‘El Chapo’

“They’re some of the most capable, most well-funded, most dangerous organizations on the planet, and they’re right there,” Crenshaw said. “And Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state. We have to work together with their government to deal with this.”

The bill’s co-sponsors currently include three Republican representatives. Crenshaw said he hopes even Democrats will “agree that we have a common enemy here,” and hopes that the White House will “see this for what it is.”

“Leverage is needed,” he said. “It can’t just be all carrots. You gotta have a stick, too, when you’re dealing with other countries, even our allies.”

Known as “authorizations for use of military force,” bills like the one proposed by Crenshaw have rarely been repealed and are sometimes criticized as “blank checks.” The AUMF enacted after 9/11 is still in effect and has been used almost constantly to justify military operations in at least 22 countries, according to a Brown University research paper.