Jason S. Miyares
Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Jason S. Miyares
Attorney General


202 North 9th Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
FAX 804-786-1991
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For media inquiries only, contact:  
Victoria LaCivita
(804) 588-2021 
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Attorney General Miyares Urges Biden Administration to Designate Drug Cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

RICHMOND, VA – Attorney General Jason Miyares is leading a coalition of 21 states calling on President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) under federal law. Doing so will free up resources to confront the deadly opioid crisis with the seriousness it deserves.

The opioid crisis has affected every state, county, city, town, and community in the United States. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses—and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than half. In the letter sent today, Attorney General Miyares explains that the U.S. Government knows precisely how this poison is entering our country. Cartels like the Sinaloa cartel and Cartel Jalisco New Generation import raw materials from China, use them to produce deadly synthetic opioids at low cost, and traffic those poisons across the southwestern border and into our communities. Between October 2021 and June 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 8,425 pounds of fentanyl smuggled into the United States. These cartels are doing much more than just smuggling poison into the United States. They are assassinating rivals and government officials, ambushing and killing Americans at the border, and engaging in an armed insurgency against the Mexican Government.

"The Mexican drug cartels are trafficking fentanyl into our country every day, killing thousands of Virginians and endangering every single community in our Commonwealth. The threat these drug cartels pose is real and imminent—which is why this country must escalate its response. It's time we stop ignoring them. Law enforcement agencies need every tool available to fight against this public health and national security crisis, and designating these cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations would be an important first step in confronting the gravity of this dangerous crisis,” said Attorney General Miyares.

In Virginia, fatal fentanyl-related overdoses have increased by 40 percent since 2021. On average, we lose five Virginians a day to fentanyl overdoses. That is why Attorney General Miyares joined 17 other state attorneys general in calling on the President to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction on September 15th.

Designating major cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations will give state and federal law enforcement agencies increased authority to freeze cartel assets, deny entry to cartel members, and allow prosecutors to pursue stricter punishments against those who provide them material support.

Attorney General Miyares' letter was joined by the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Read the letter HERE.