Ohio is seeking to press ahead with a bill to urge the federal government to designate several of the Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations due to their role in fueling the deadly opioid epidemic, SARA reported Wednesday.
The drug cartels are currently classified only as transnational criminal organizations.
"The Mexican drug cartels don't fly planes into buildings, but they aggressively ship poison into our communities," Heidi Riggs, an advocate fighting the epidemic, told the Ohio Criminal Justice Committee recently, according to Vimeo.
Former Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Derek Maltz also testified to the committe, stressing "The cartels are taking advantage of these people that are addicted."
The committee is considering passing the bill, which would then have to go to the full Ohio legislature.
Backers of the legislation hope this would set a trend nationally of labelling the cartels as terrorist organizations.
Ohio ranked second in 2017 for the number of opioid related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
DEA acting director Uttam Dhillon called the Mexican cartels "the biggest criminal threat the United States faces today" in an interview with Hill.TV.
But the current designation is not enough to properly fight them, and thus the terrorist label is needed to use additional tools to halt their activities.
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