Blackburn, Hagerty, Colleagues Urge Biden Officials to Sanction Mexican State and Local Officials Enabling Drug Cartels

June 26, 2023

NASHVILLE, TENN.  U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) led their colleagues in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Biden Administration to use every diplomatic tool available to persuade the Mexican government to counter the national security threat posed by Mexican drug cartels. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) signed the letter.

We urge the Biden Administration to use expanded sanctions authority as leverage and adopt a more assertive approach. This includes imposing sanctions and visa bans targeting Mexican officials starting at the state and local level of government who directly support or enable the cartels, until López Obrador’s Administration resumes support for joint operations, increases intelligence sharing, and escalates pressure against the cartels and their enablers in government,” the senators wrote.

President López Obrador’s unwillingness to act against the cartels and the breakdown in key lines of effort for counter-narcotics cooperation pose a major and growing threat to the safety and security of the American people. In addition to controlling up to 40 percent of Mexican territory, the cartels also control the primary trafficking corridors into the United States and facilitate the passage of a record number of illegal aliens into our country and almost all of the illicit drugs coming across our border,” the senators continued.

Accommodation alone has failed to spur cooperation, so it is time to use all diplomatic tools at the Executive Branch’s disposal to persuade the government of President López Obrador to resume sincere and effective counter-narcotics cooperation and work to eradicate these groups,” the senators concluded.


  • Since taking office, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador has sought to dismantle hard security counter-narcotics cooperation with the United States, routinely acted in bad faith, and permitted drug cartels to dramatically expand their operations across Mexico with impunity.
  • Moreover, the Biden Administration’s engagement and attempts at accommodation have failed to persuade President López Obrador to take action against Mexican drug cartels.  
  • U.S.-Mexican cooperation on counternarcotics has reached its lowest point in decades.
  • Imposing sanctions on corrupt state- and local-level officials in Mexico who enable cartel operations would chill future investments in those states and impose real costs on Mexico for refusing to confront the cartels and downgrading counter-narcotics cooperation with the United States. 

A copy of the letter can be found here.