Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the first GOP presidential primary debate on Wednesday that he would authorize military force into Mexico as a way to tackle the Mexican drug cartels funneling fentanyl into the U.S.
DeSantis, who has previously promised to authorize lethal force at the border against drug smugglers, was asked if he would support sending U.S. Special Forces over the border into Mexico to take out fentanyl labs and the operations of drug cartels.
“Yes, and I will do it on day one,” he said.
“Here’s the thing. The cartels are killing tens of thousands of our fellow citizens. You want to talk about a country in decline? You have the cartels controlling a lot of your southern border. We have to reestablish the rule of law and we have to defend our people,” he said.
DeSantis has taken a hard line on what he has called an “invasion” at the southern border, both in terms of migration and drug smuggling, and his previous comments about Mexico and fentanyl have upset Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
On Wednesday, he doubled down on those promises to take action against the cartels.
“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. Yes, we reserve the right to operate. How many more tens of thousands are we going to let die?” he said.
He went on to describe a meeting with a woman who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose after he took one Percocet laced with the opioid – which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Fentanyl is created primarily in Mexico using Chinese precursors and is frequently pressed into counterfeit pills, often causing users to be unaware of what they are actually taking.
“That is happening all across this country because of the poison that they are bringing in. So as president, would I use force? Would I treat them as foreign terrorist organizations? You’re darn right I would,” DeSantis said.