Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that marijuana is a significant part of international criminal enterprises, as he declared that the Justice Department has “zero tolerance” for gang violence from groups like MS-13.
“We [did] have quite a bit of marijuana being imported by the cartels from Mexico. This is definitely a cartel-sponsored event,” Mr. Sessions said at a crime committee meeting.
He said there’s a lot of violence around “marijuana distribution networks,” including in the D.C. area.
“So it is a financial money-maker for them,” he said. “I returned from the border last week and they told me that quite a number of the people they arrest are hauling marijuana across the border.”
“So it … remains a significant international criminal organization, the marijuana network,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had downplayed the role of marijuana in the international trafficking arena, saying it is “not a factor” in the drug world.
Mr. Kelly said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the main drug exports from countries like Mexico and others farther south are methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine.
“The solution is not arresting a lot of users,” Mr. Kelly said. “The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill.”
Mr. Sessions spoke Tuesday after delivering remarks at the top of a meeting of the Justice Department’s organized crime council and its Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces’ executive committee.
“Under President Trump, the Justice Department has zero tolerance for gang violence,” he said in his opening remarks. “Transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 represent one of the gravest threats to our American safety.”
He said MS-13 has been regenerating its membership “because of an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement.”
He also said sanctuary cities “dangerously undermine” the effort to target such gangs.
“If you are a gang member, we will find you,” he said. “We will devastate your networks. We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks, and seize your profits. We will not concede a single block or a street corner to your vicious tactics.”
• David Sherfinski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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