Sen. Lindsey Graham: If an ISIS or al Qaeda Cell in Mexico ‘Lobbed a Rocket into Texas, We’d Wipe Them Off the Planet’

( – Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) are teaming up to target Mexican drug cartels through legislation naming them as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) and authorizing the use of military force against them.

Graham compared his proposal to Plan Colombia, an operation that took place during the Clinton administration, in which the United States teamed up with the Colombian military to target narco-terrorists in Colombia.

This comes after four Americans from Graham’s state were kidnapped and two of them killed by drug cartels in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which has a level four travel advisory by the State Department.

First, I want to say we have been talking about doing something against Mexican drug cartels regarding foreign terrorist organization designation for a decade, since 2012. Senator Kennedy and I are going to join forces. Hopefully, Democrats will be involved, to label these organizations as foreign terrorist organizations under U.S. law. That is the top of the food chain. 

An MTO designation is the highest designation you can give a criminal terrorist enterprise that’s not a nation state. What would it mean? It means that all the precursors coming from China – Chinese chemical companies and Chinese enterprises – would be subject to being prosecuted under U.S. law for providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, something that you can’t do today. 

So we’re going to open up the prosecution link, but I am a firm believer that the prosecution model as it exists today is not working. So what are we going to do? We are going to up the ante. We are going to designate these groups and others if appropriate foreign terrorist organizations under U.S. law, changing the game for those who provide assistance to them. What drives this is fentanyl. 

It’s been a game changer. More people died in the United States from fentanyl poisoning than car wrecks and gun violence combined. Fentanyl is becoming the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45. 200 Americans die every day due to fentanyl overdoses. 

Fentanyl overdoses cause the equivalent of a new September 11 every two weeks. I think John and I believe that if there were a ISIS or al Qaeda cell in Mexico that lobbed a rocket into Texas, we’d wipe them off the planet. They are doing that times thousands, and our response is inadequate. 

Graham said that 106,000 people died of drug overdoses last year with “70,000 related to fentanyl with no end in sight.”

We’ve recovered over 12,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border this year, enough to kill almost 3 billion people. Last year it was 14,700 pounds. This year it’s almost 13,000 pounds and we got eight months to go. This problem is a national security threat. Fentanyl is a killer, and the people killing Americans reside out in the open in Mexico. 

I don’t know if it’s a lack of will on behalf of the Mexican government to bring these cartels to bay or lack of capability. Either way, it’s the same result for the United States: chaos, heartache, terrorism, murder. It needs to come to an end. So we are going to do two things today. 

We are going to introduce legislation in the coming days and try to make it bipartisan to designate these groups foreign terrorist organizations under U.S. law to open up more capability to go after them and their conspirators all over the world. 

Secondly, we’re going to introduce an authorization to use military force where the United States military to go in and destroy these labs and destroy these networks if possible.

Once you’re designated terrorist organization, the second step that we will be engaging in is give the military the authority to go after these organizations wherever they exist, not to invade Mexico, not to shoot Mexican airplanes down but to destroy drug labs that are poisoning Americans. Plan Colombia. Bill Clinton in 2000 passed Plan Colombia. 

Here’s what Joe Biden said. We have an obligation in the interest of our children in the interest of the hemisphere to keep the oldest democracy in place, Colombia, to give them a fighting chance to keep from becoming a narco-state. Joe Biden supported Plan Colombia in 2000. 

Plan Colombia allowed the United States military to partner with Colombia, their military and their drug enforcement agencies to get in on the ground and disrupt the cocaine traffic that was poisoning America back then. Fentanyl is up to 10,000 times more lethal than a dose of morphine. Fentanyl is a weapon of mass description. 

If you thought Plan Colombia was a good idea, to go to Colombia with military force, to help the Colombian military to take down the cocaine narco state that existed, then how can you object to doing this in Mexico. So it’s time now for Plan Mexico. It’s time now to get serious and use all the tools in the toolbox, not just in the prosecution lane, not just in the law enforcement lane but in the military lane as well. 

Hopefully this will change behavior of the Mexican government. Nothing would please me more than to have a meaningful partnership to take these drug cartels down and stop killing Americansm but if Mexico will not cooperate than we are going to have to do what’s in our national security interests, and let me just end with this.

Mexico is a safe haven. It’s a narco terrorist state. The safe haven provides Mexican cartels the ability with impunity to deliver lethal doses of fentanyl into our nation. That is the leading cause of death of Americans from 18 to 45. 

Four South Carolinians went to Mexico. Two of them are not coming back. I just talked to the sister of one of the victims. They are waiting on a body. These drug cartels are dangerous. They’re lawless. American law needs to change to make sure we deal with them appropriately, and as we designate them as MTOs, the next will be to provide authorization to use the military force to eradicate the Mexican drug cartels that are poisoning America.


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