GOP rivals suggest war measures against Mexico for fentanyl trafficking

Many of the GOP presidential candidates say they’re willing to take drastic measures, including acts that resemble war, in response to fentanyl trafficking from Mexico.

The rhetoric comes as the United States is facing its deadliest drug crisis in history, with more than 111,000 people dying in the latest 12-month period ending in April. The Drug Enforcement Administration says that Mexico and China are the primary source countries for fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked directly into the U.S.

As Emily’s Hope has previously reported, the U.S. has recently sanctioned dozens of individuals, entities and drug cartel leaders in Mexico and China for fentanyl production and trafficking. The Biden Administration also allocated more than $450 million in new funding to fight the nation’s drug epidemic, and the son of notorious drug lord ‘El Chapo’ was extradited to the U.S. to face charges. However, GOP presidential candidates say this isn’t enough.

According to The Associated Press, Ron DeSantis advocates for shooting suspected drug smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border and using the U.S. military to fight drug cartels, while Nikki Haley pledges to deploy American special forces into Mexico. Vivek Ramaswamy accuses Mexico’s leader of an unholy alliance with drug cartels, vowing to be a game-changer if elected president. 

As for Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner for the 2024 nomination, his long-standing influence on his party’s border rhetoric continues, as he holds Mexico accountable for issues in America and promises innovative military and covert strategies should he return to the White House.

However, many experts disagree with these tactics. Research published last year by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies revealed that the crisis couldn’t be resolved without curbing substance use disorder in the U.S. that creates the demand for illegal drugs.

“Reducing demand for illegally manufactured synthetic opioids is paramount to stemming the flow of these drugs. Better access to and continued scientific understanding of treatments for OUD, including through medication, are primary needs,” the report reads.