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Sunday, October 1, 2023
Oct. 1, 2023

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Other Papers Say: Cooperate to stop drug deaths


A round of indictments against a major Mexican fentanyl trafficking ring last week presents an opportunity to hobble the multinational drug enterprise killing people on both sides of the border — but only if leaders in the United States and Mexico can stop sniping at each other and overcome a rift between them.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, announcing the indictments against Sinaloa cartel leaders and other alleged drug traffickers, called it “the largest, most violent and prolific fentanyl traffic operation in the world.” But it didn’t take long for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to question the investigation that led to the charges against Los Chapitos, four sons of the infamous drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, known as El Chapo and believed to have handed leadership of the Sinaloa cartel to his sons. López Obrador accused the U.S. government of spying and violating Mexico’s national sovereignty.

Such discord is, unfortunately, not unexpected considering that leaders in both countries have been engaging in a war of words since four U.S. citizens were attacked by a drug gang while visiting the Mexican border city of Matamoros in early March. Two died in gunfire and two others were kidnapped and released a few days later.

The kidnappings prompted Republicans to call for designating drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations and for the U.S. to invade Mexico to battle these cartels. Though the frustration is understandable, such vigilante-style fantasies are antithetical to a good relationship between two countries.

Relations between the U.S. and Mexico on the topic of drug trafficking have always been rocky, with drugs coming from Mexico to feed demand in the U.S. But López Obrador took it a step too far. Responding to Republican threats, he suggested absurdly that U.S. parents were to blame for the fentanyl crisis for failing to hug their kids enough. He further inflamed ire in the U.S. when he categorically denied that fentanyl is produced in Mexico, contrary to evidence gathered by U.S. law enforcement.

It also runs counter to information contained in the indictments handed down last week in Washington, D.C., Illinois and New York. The investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and other U.S. law enforcement officials tracked a huge drug trafficking enterprise that runs from China to Mexico and the U.S.

These indictments are a major blow against one of the biggest cartels. Seven of the 28 defendants named in the indictments are in custody pending extradition hearings, but the others are at large. Finding them will require the cooperation of Mexico.

With the drug wars having claimed thousands of lives on both sides of the border, it’s imperative that American and Mexican leaders focus on their common goal of reducing the violence and death associated with the illegal fentanyl trade.