Trump details war plan against drug cartels as Biden announces border moves

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Former President Donald Trump on Thursday outlined his plan to secure the U.S.-Mexico border if elected in 2024, pledging to “wage war” against the cartels responsible for the flood of drugs entering the country under the Biden administration.

Mr. Trump outlined his multi-part plan to dismantle cartel leadership and operations including “deploying all necessary military assets” including special forces and cyberwarfare capabilities and imposing a “full naval embargo on the cartels, to ensure they cannot use our region’s waters to traffic illicit drugs to the U.S.”

In a video address posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, Mr. Trump said “the drug cartels and their allies in the Biden administration have the blood of countless millions on their hands.”

“Millions and millions of families and people are being destroyed,” he said. “When I am back in the White House, the drug kingpins and vicious traffickers will never sleep soundly again.”

Under Mr. Trump’s plan, the U.S. would designate major drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations and cut off the traffickers’ access to the global financial system.

He pledged to “get full cooperation” from neighboring countries in dismantling the cartels “or else fully expose the bribes and corruption that protect these criminal networks.”

His plan also calls on Congress to impose the death penalty for those convicted of drug trafficking.

Mr. Trump laid the blame for the ongoing drug crisis squarely at the feet of the Biden administration.

“Joe Biden has spent the last two years dismantling the southern border,” Mr. Trump said in a release outlining his plan. 

“Biden’s Open Borders policies are killing innocent Americans, ravaging American communities, enriching the cartels, and destabilizing large parts of Mexico and Latin America,” he said.

Mr. Trump posted his address from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, as Mr. Biden addressed the nation from the White House to unveil a new pathway allowing up to 30,000 migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua into the U.S. while promising expulsions and blockades to stop those who refuse to enter the country legally.

Mr. Biden’s approach allows migrants from the four countries to live and work in the U.S. under a two-year permit while trying to find a more permanent status.

Mexico has also agreed to take up to 30,000 people a month who try to cross the U.S. border illegally, mirroring Mr. Trump’s return-to-Mexico policy used to solve the 2019 border surge.

During his address, Mr. Biden called for both sides to embrace the new approach.

“This is a hard one to deal with, but we have to deal with it,” he said.

“The actions we’re announcing today will make things better, will make things better, but will not fix the border problem completely,” he said.

More than 82,000 migrants from the four key countries outlined in Mr. Biden’s plan were detained at the southern border in November, part of the 233,740 total illegal crossers caught by U.S. Border Protection.

In October 2020, the month before Mr. Biden was elected, CPB detained just 71,929 illegal migrants at the border, 90% of whom are expelled under Title 42, a pandemic-era policy allowing for the expedited removal of illegal crossers.

An estimated 100,000 migrants per month are caught and released under the Biden administration, according to estimates.

The chaos at the border has also allowed for a devastating flood of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and other drugs to cross into the country.

More than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021. The majority of those overdoses were caused by fentanyl, an ultra-potent synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl overdoses increased by 94% between 2019 and 2021.

Fentanyl shipments across the southern border have spiked under the Biden administration. CBP officers seized 719 pounds of fentanyl at the U.S. border in fiscal 2022 on top of 4,717 pounds of methamphetamine, 3,585 pounds of marijuana, 1,150 pounds of cocaine and 110 pounds of heroin.

Only a fraction of the drugs crossing the border are seized, according to estimates.

“The drug cartels are waging war on America — and it’s now time for America to wage war on the cartels,” Mr. Trump said Thursday.

– Stephen Dinan contributed to this story.

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