On Tuesday, nine Americans - a large family of what appear to be associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - were killed during a highway ambush by drug cartel members.
The story sent shockwaves across the American press, President Trump, in a series of tweets, offered US assistance in bringing the criminals to justice. "If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively."
A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing. If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
....monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2019
The slaughter of innocent Americans this week is a clear understanding that cartel wars in Mexico are evolving into a dangerous phase where foreigners, women, and children won't be spared by cartels.
"There are no words for what happened to them."— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 7, 2019
At a ranch in a valley in northern Mexico, Howarth #LeBaron gazes mournfully at his three surviving children. Days ago, they lost four siblings and their mother in a massacre blamed on a drug cartel. https://t.co/q0WABU9Jlv pic.twitter.com/VwQtwNGp1t
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has so far been more than willing to work with the Trump administration on border security but might have to readjust his approach in fighting cartels after the deaths of the Americans.
AMLO's strategy in creating work programs and opportunities for Mexican youth isn't working as cartel wars devastate many parts of the country.
Former anti-drug prosecutor Samuel Gonzalez told AP that "sooner or later, the government is going to have to adjust its strategy."
Perhaps, the deaths of Americans this week is a serious wake-up call for AMLO and his administration to change the script or face tremendous backlash from the Trump administration.
"It is not that the government would have to declare war on the drug cartels, it is rather that the drug traffickers have declared war on the government," Gonzalez said, "and in that situation the government has to respond in legitimate self-defense and with proportional force."
Jacob Hornberger, the president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, said Washington officials have been contemplating three strategies over how to respond to the massacre in Mexico:
- Option 1: Have the Mexican military crackdown even more fiercely than it already has during the past 10 years of fierce military drug warfare.
- Option 2: Send in the US military and the CIA into Mexico.
- Option 3. Capture the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, extradite him to the United States, and jail him for the rest of his life.
Hornberger finds it hard to believe that Option 1, 2, and 3 would solve the crisis, instead, he says there's a straightforward solution that could end all of this madness: end the war on drugs.
"As we have been saying here at The Future of Freedom Foundation for 30 years, there is one — and only one — way to get rid of drug cartels, drug gangs, and drug lords. That way is through drug legalization, complete drug legalization. Not just marijuana. All drugs, including cocaine, heroin, meth, and opioids. Ditch them all.
With drug legalization, the drug cartels, drug gangs, and drug lords are out out business overnight. Gone. Isn't that what drug-war proponents say they would like to see? Well, that's the only way to see it.
That's what happened, of course, when statists decided to re-legalize booze. They finally realized that they were never going to put the booze cartels, booze gangs, and booze lords out of business by cracking down on them ever more fiercely. They finally realized that the only way to achieve that goal was through legalization. And sure enough, the re-legalization of booze put them all out of business," Hornberger wrote.
And the probability of the US government ending the war on drugs is very low. So it's likely that AMLO and Washington will start increasing joint military operations against cartels in the not too distant future.