Barr set for Mex­i­can meet­ings as US seeks car­tel crack­down

Orlando Sentinel - - NATIONAL & WORLD -

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.

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