In early November, nine members of an American family from a fundamentalist Mormon community, not associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were killed in Northern Mexico. Authorities are reportedly investigating the attack as cartel-related.
Another 21 people died in a cartel gun battle in Mexico near the Texas border in early December.
The violence led to calls for action from American lawmakers, including Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. Now, he’s introducing a bill that would impose sanctions on drug cartels and other foreign criminal organizations.
The bill would allow the U.S. government to impose sanctions like freezing financial assets, preventing a group’s members from entering the U.S., or criminally prosecuting people who give resources to the organization.
“This legislation will better equip us to meet the threats our nation faces from violent cartels and other foreign criminal networks,” Romney said in a statement.
It would also require President Trump to submit a report to Congress about last month’s attack in Northern Mexico, and whether the group responsible should be sanctioned under the bill.
Trump wrote in a tweet last week that he is ready to declare Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations but, at the request of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, “will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”
Romney’s bill doesn’t designate cartels as terrorist organizations, but uses a similar process to categorize groups as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Romney also recently told reporters he supported Trump’s offer of military assistance to assist the Mexican government in cracking down on cartels. Mexico has rejected that offer.
Correction 2:33 p.m. MST 12/16/19: An earlier version of the article misidentified the religious affiliation of the nine Americans shot in Mexico last month. In fact, they were part of a fundamentalist Mormom community, not associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.