Bill before Congress aims to label drug cartels as 'terrorists'

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio can attest to cartel violence in the Rio Grande Valley.

"When I began in office| one of my officers was under contract, said Lucio, They were going to kill him, and I had to hide him for nine months.

Sheriff Lucio was referring to the Gulf Cartel.

Its leader, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, has since been locked away, but the violence has only gotten worse.

Lucio said with few laws to prosecute suspected cartel members, the cartels are just not scared.

"We need something that has some teeth into it, said Lucio.

That TMs where House Bill 1270 comes in.

It was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

If passed, it would give cartels the title of terrorists.

Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, introduced it.

His argument is that Mexican drug cartels meet all the legal criteria of a foreign terrorist organization.

McCaul said much like terrorists, drug cartels use brutal tactics of violence.

He said if considered terrorists, the government would have to start fighting cartels, just as it does terrorists in the Middle East.

Back here at home, Sheriff Lucio believes the bill is overdue.

"Yes I am in favor, and yes we do need something like that, said Lucio, Yes, nothing like that is in place right now, and we need to be looking ahead."

Looking back, Lucio said he wishes a law cracking down on cartels was already in place, especially when his own deputy was threatened.

He said it could have led to a stricter sentence for cartel leader Osiel Cardenas.

Cardenas was sentenced to just 25 years in prison.