U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview posted online on Tuesday that he planned to designate Mexican drug cartels as terror groups.
The move comes after Mr. Trump called for a “war” on the cartels in early November when nine women and children from a Mormon community in northern Mexico were killed in a hail of gunfire. The victims were dual U.S.-Mexican citizens.
“Are you going to designate those cartels in Mexico as terror groups and start hitting them with drones?” asked Bill O’Reilly, a conservative media personality.
“I don’t want to say what I’m going to do, but they will be designated,” Mr. Trump answered. He added: “I will be designating the cartels… absolutely. I have 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.”
Mexican authorities reacted swiftly, with the Foreign Ministry saying that it has contacted U.S. officials “to understand the meaning and scope of the remarks”.
Mexico will also “seek a high-level meeting as soon as possible to present Mexico’s position” and hear Washington’s views, the Foreign Ministry said.
Mexico will seek talks to “make progress with reducing the flow of arms and money from the U.S. to organised crime in Mexico, in addition to drug precursors that cross Mexican territory en route to the U.S.,” the statement read. Mexico has long complained about the flow of weapons bought in the U.S. and smuggled south of the border.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard’s reaction was more forceful on Twitter. “Mexico will never allow any action that means a violation of its national sovereignty,” he wrote.