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Mexican Cartels and the FTO Debate: The Designation Process and Relevant Government Stakeholders

Maria Calderon



Mexican cartels represent a multifaceted and complex problem with significant implications for Mexico and the United States. These criminal organizations have long been a U.S. national security concern, becoming more severe with the increase in the lethality of drugs being smuggled into the U.S., increasingly impacting millions of lives in North America. Consequently, debates have risen on ways to combat such illicit groups, including the conundrum of designating Mexican cartels as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" (FTOs) under U.S. law.

The designation of Mexican cartels as FTOs is both complex and contentious since it involves various perspectives, from international relations and security to legal issues and human rights. Understanding the stages of an FTO designation process and the roles of the government stakeholders involved may prove beneficial when engaging in debates and weighing the impacts of an eventual FTO designation.

About the Author

Maria Calderon

María Calderón

Staff Assistant Intern, Mexico Institute

María Calderón is a Staff Assistant Intern for the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center.

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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more