DeSantis Says He Would Send US Military Into Mexico to Fight Fentanyl Production

US presidential candidate Ron DeSantis pledged during the Republican debate on Wednesday to send US special forces into Mexico to destroy fentanyl labs if he were to win the 2024 elections

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, during a break at the Republican primary presidential debate hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Republican presidential contenders are facing off in their first debate of the primary season, minus frontrunner Donald Trump, who continues to lead his GOP rivals by a double-digit margin. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg
By Eric Martin
August 24, 2023 | 09:05 AM

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Bloomberg — Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis pledged to send US special forces into Mexico to destroy fentanyl labs, disrupt cartel operations and stop the lethal drug from crossing the border.

“Yes, I will do it from Day One,” the Florida governor said in response to a question at the first GOP debate in Milwaukee on Wednesday night. “The president of the United States has got to use all available powers as commander-in-chief to protect our country and to protect the people. So when they’re coming across, yes, we’re going to use lethal force.”

Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, left, speaks to Vivek Ramaswamy, chairman and co-founder of Strive Asset Management and 2024 Republican presidential candidate, during a break at the Republican primary presidential debate hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Republican presidential contenders are facing off in their first debate of the primary season, minus frontrunner Donald Trump, who continues to lead his GOP rivals by a double-digit margin. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloombergdfd

Mexico would likely view such a move by a US president as a violation of its sovereignty by an ally. The Mexican embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fentanyl trafficking through Mexico was among the most talked-about issues in the foreign policy discussion at the debate. The anesthetic-turned-street drug has caused tens of thousands of deaths in the US in recent years. President Joe Biden’s Drug Enforcement Administration chief Anne Milgram has described fentanyl as “the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered.”

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In 2019, China moved to declare fentanyl and its precursor chemicals controlled substances at then-President Donald Trump’s urging, but the change ended up diverting more of the trade through Mexico and that nation’s cartels.

“As president, would I use force? Would I treat them as foreign terrorist organizations?” DeSantis said. “You’re darn right I would.”

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