On November 30th, at least 23 died when rival cartels fighting for dominance in Northern Mexico clashed with local law enforcement in Villa Union, Coahuila.
Out of the 23 dead, 17 were cartel members. In addition, 10 more were arrested for their alleged involvement in the violence against security agents.
On the side of law enforcement, 4 officers were killed in the clashes. 2 unarmed civilians were killed, in addition to 3 children and 6 adults being injured, without their life being threatened.
Since November 30th, more than 500 servicemen from law enforcement were deployed by air and land in a territory of 2,000 square kilometers, in search of those allegedly responsible for the violence in Villa Unión.
The town of Villa Union was, in effect, shredded, riddled with bullets, as a heavily armed group of alleged cartel members stormed the community in a convoy of trucks.
When they attacked local government offices, the federales attempted to intervene. Fleeing, the cartel kidnapped locals and their vehicles, including a hearse on the way to a funeral.
Currently, US President Donald Trump is mulling whether to designate the Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO), which has Mexican officials concerned that the US may carry out unilateral interventions along the border.
“They will be designated. I’ve been working on that for the last 90 days. Designation is not that easy. You have to go through a process, and we are well into that process,” Trump said.
Former Acting ICE Director Tom Homan believes it’s time for an intervention on Mexican soil. Although he credited the Mexican law enforcement response, he pointed out a failing that allows cartel violence to creep closer to the United States.
“They’re not well-trained, they’re not well-equipped, and they certainly don’t have the expertise at dismantling large criminal organizations like the U.S. law enforcement does. We’ve proven that in Panama with [ruler Manuel] Noriega, we proved that in Colombia with [Pablo Escobar]. The United States can go down to Mexico and help them address this crisis once and for all,” Homan said.
Ambassador David Johnson, vice president of the International Narcotics Control Board and former assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, too, supporters the FTO designation.
“Terrorists use violence to expand a political goal. These criminals are interested in money, not politics. They don’t want the responsibility and headaches that come with political control since it could interfere with their profit-maximizing goals. The key reason for not labeling them terrorists is because that is not what they are. They are in it for the money. Period,” he said.
On December 4th, Bloomberg cited three unnamed US officials who claimed that Trump is to meet with top advisers on December 6th and discuss the possible FTO designation.
The terrorist designation “is a symbolic and moral condemnation of drug cartels,” said Peter Harrell, a fellow at the Center for New American Security, a Washington-based research group. “You’re sending a message that these are bad guys but also that these are terrorist organizations.”