Central Texas Congressman Michael McCaul of Austin is pushing Congress and the Obama administration to designate murderous Mexican drug cartels as "foreign terrorist organizations" -- a move he says will strengthen the U.S. war on the drug trade.

The four-term congressman and former Justice Department counter terrorism official says the cartels are “terrorists” who “intimidate and coerce the civilian population, affect the conduct of the Mexican government and threaten the national security of the United States.”

McCaul says that makes the cartels “the very essence of terrorism.”  If that's not terrorism, nothing is.

He says giving designating them as foreign terrorist organizations like al-Qaida would limit their financial, property and travel interests, and allow prosecutors to add up to 15 years of prison time to some drug-related offenses.

McCaul's proposal reflects Republican efforts to portray drug violence south of the border as a direct threat to the United States that demands greater security measures -- including National Guard troops on the ground, additional Border Patrol agents and fences and physical barriers in high transit locations along the border.

Democrats and administration officials don't see it that way. They view the drug cartels as organized crime that can be dealt with through enhanced federal law enforcement -- instead of military-style security measures.

via Rep. Michael McCaul presses efforts to designate Mexican drug cartels “foreign terrorist organizations” | Texas on the Potomac | a Chron.com blog.