Barr set for Mexican meetings as US seeks cartel crackdown
WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr will meet with Mexico’s president and law enforcement officials about one week after President Donald Trump suggested that the United States would seek to classify Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
Barr planned to be in Mexico City on Thursday for meetings with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as well as the foreign minister, attorney general and others in law enforcement, according to a Justice Department official. Barr also was expected to meet with Justice Department and American federal law enforcement officials who work in Mexico.
The visit comes amid a series of massacres in Mexico, which has seen its homicide rate increase to historically high levels this year. Critics have accused the Mexican government of lacking a coherent security strategy. Last week, Trump suggested that the U.S. government could move to label the cartels as foreign terror organizations, a designation that would put them in the same category as the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.
Meanwhile, U.S. immigration officials continue to send asylum-seekers back over the border to Mexico to wait while their claims are assessed under a policy designed to stop the flow of migrants into the U.S. More than 55,000 people have been stranded in Mexico in deplorable conditions, some in areas marred by cartel violence. Some U.S. officials, such as Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy at the Homeland Security Department, have claimed that the area is safe and suggested that criticism of Mexico is unfair.