President Donald Trump warned his counterpart in Mexico last Friday that his nation had “bad hombres” — and that the United States might have to send its military to deal with them, according to the Associated Press.
Citing a partial transcript of the call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the AP reported that Trump took a confrontational tone.
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there.”
“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump reportedly said. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”
It is not the first time that a phone call between Trump and a world leader has departed from the typical diplomatic-speak that typically characterizes such conversations. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Trump abruptly ended a call with Australia’s prime minister after a contentious conversation about a deal that former President Obama had struck to take in refugees that Australia did not want.
Trump acknowledged the reports of his conversations with world leaders as he addressed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it. Just don’t worry about it,” he said. “We have to be tough. It’s time we’re going to be a little tough, folks. We’re taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore.”
Mexican officials downplayed the tone of the conversation, according to the AP, which reported that presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told Radio Formula on Wednesday night that it is “absolutely false that the president of the United States threatened to send troops to Mexico.”
Kyle Shideler, director of threat information for the Center for Security Policy, told LifeZette that Trump’s bluntness does not negate the seriousness of the danger posed by Mexican drug cartels.
“Trump is a man who likes to shoot from the hip and speak colloquially — even to other worlds leaders,” he said. “You have cartels openly cooperating with known terrorist groups, like Hezbollah.”
According to a 2015 Congressional Research Service report, Mexican cartels earn between $19 billion and $29 billion a year from drug sales in the United States. That same report also estimated that at least 80,000 people have been killed since 2006 as a result of Mexican organized crime.
The Daily Beast highlighted a number of gruesome cartel-related killings just before Christmas. Six nude male corpses wrapped in garbage bags turned up in Jalisco. Authorities arrested nearly a dozen men, including an investigator with the state attorney general’s office, a former state official tasked with assisting in missing women’s cases, and the local leader of an organized crime cell.
Hours later, three men died in execution-style killings outside a children’s day care center in Sinaloa; two more died the following day in a taxicab, according to The Daily Beast.
The website also reported that in Guerrero, family members found the bodies of seven alleged poppy growers who died in gun battles.
Often the extreme violence spills over the border into the United States, Shideler said. He added that it would be appropriate for the United States to use the military to assist Mexico.
“This would not be the first time that the U.S. has used military assets to target the war on drugs,” he said, pointing to operations during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. “There is a role for the U.S. military in drug interdictions.”
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray this week told Televisa, a Mexico-based media network, that fighting drug cartels can be an area of shared cooperation between the two countries. He welcomed suggestions that cartels could be the source of funding to pay for the border wall that Trump wants to build. The Trump campaign floated that idea during the campaign.
"It's undoubtedly positive progress that they are talking about someone that is not Mexico. Narcos are not Mexico," he told the network.
Mexico under Peña Nieto has had some success in fighting the cartels. Overall intentional homicides have dropped by 30 percent since he took office in 2012. And the country recently handed over infamous reputed drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to U.S. authorities.
Shideler said breaking up large cartels can have a paradoxical downside.
"Large, stable monopolies tend toward less violence, but they move more drugs, which is a problem," he said.
When those organizations split into factions, violence increases, he added.
Last Modified: February 2, 2017, 12:45 pm