The new law will expand the state’s ability to fight the activities of Mexican drug cartels in connection to human smuggling, drug smuggling, money laundering, and other organized criminal activities. During a ceremony in the Texas Capitol, Governor Abbott said, “Today, I am signing six bills from this year’s regular session to ensure that Texas can continue to do even more to stop illegal immigration at our southern border and provide new tools to the brave men and women along the southern border to protect Texans and Americans from the chaos and crisis of the border.”
One of those bills, Senate Bill 1900, sponsored by Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) and Representative Ryan Guillen (R-Rio Grande City), designates drug cartels as FTOs. The bill also adds FTOs to the current Texas intelligence databases and provides authority for local agencies to seek public nuisance claims against them.
“Today, public enemy number one is the Mexican cartels, and they impact every community in Texas and the United States,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Steve McCraw during the signing ceremony. “Our mission is to detect and interdict transitional criminal activity and create proactive strategies to combat it. It’s dangerous to cross between ports of entry, and securing the border between them is ideal to fight Mexican cartels.”
Breitbart Texas reported that the new law codifies an executive order signed by Abbott in September 2022. “Cartels are terrorists, and it’s time we treated them that way. In fact, more Americans died from fentanyl poisoning in the past year than all terrorist attacks across the globe in the past 100 years,” Abbott said. “In order to save our country, particularly our next generation, we must do more to get fentanyl off our streets.”
The executive order identified the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation Cartels (CJNG) as terrorist organizations. He requested President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris create federal terrorist designations for these cartels and others producing and distributing Fentanyl.
The Texas Senate passed the bill with a near-unanimous vote of 30 Yeas and one Nay. Senator Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) was the lone nay in the Senate vote. The House passed the bill by a vote of 93 Yeas and 51 Nays. The newly signed law becomes effective on September 1, 2023.
The Texas legislature is currently in a special session called by Governor Abbott to pass additional Texas border security measures. As a result, the state is expected to continue its efforts to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking along its southern border.