FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., on Thursday introduced a package of legislation aimed at combating transnational criminal organizations, as Mexican cartels ramp up violence and cause havoc near and at the overwhelmed southern border.
Gallagher introduced three pieces of legislation. The first, the Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act, would sanction foreign criminal organizations like the cartels to an array of sanctions.
The bill would make any member of such organization inadmissible into the U.S. and it allows for the Treasury to freeze any assets being possessed or controlled in a U.S. financial institution. It also would allow for anyone who provides support to such groups to be fined and imprisoned up to 20 years.
The Illicit Arms Trafficking Security Enforcement Act would establish a Border Enforcement Security Team within the Department of Homeland Security in order to aim at reducing arms trafficking, including coordinating with the ATF and monitoring movement of arms in and out of the country.
Finally, the Supporting Mexico Against Corruption Act would require the White House to impose Magnitsky Sanctions on current and former Mexican government officials that the Treasury has evidence has engaged in corruption and human rights violations.
All three bills have been introduced previously, but it comes as the Republican caucus has retaken the House and pledged to crack down on the ongoing border crisis. That crisis has been caused by increased migrant traffic, much of which is facilitated by transnational criminal organizations.
The Biden administration has touted its efforts to crack down on smuggling, including a campaign that has resulted in more than 5,000 arrests since it was launched in early 2022, as well as greater cooperation with Mexico. But Republicans have called on the administration to do more, pointing to the crisis at the border and the flow of deadly fentanyl into the U.S. across the Mexican land border.
A clash between cartel members and Mexican soldiers last week left at least 10 military personnel and 19 suspected members of the Sinaloa drug cartel dead. Meanwhile, Reuters reported on how passengers on an aircraft in Mexico dropped to the floor as the plane was caught in a crossfire between cartels.
‘Recent cartel-related violence underscores the need for the U.S. to impose a maximum pressure campaign against cartels and the corrupt officials who help these criminals wreak havoc on the border,’ Gallagher said in a statement to Fox News Digital. ‘ From crippling sanctions and visa restrictions to more resources to combat arms trafficking, these bills will give the federal government every tool it needs to go after cartels.’
Also on Thursday, Reps. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., introduced a joint resolution authorizing President Biden to use military force to combat the cartels.
The military authorization would give Biden the authority to go after nine cartels — including the influential Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.