'They will end up stone-cold dead': DeSantis endorses lethal force against cartels and suspected smugglers

'They will end up stone-cold dead': DeSantis endorses lethal force against cartels and suspected smugglers
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis greets guests at Ashley's BBQ Bash hosted by Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-IA) on August 06, 2023 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Seven of the 14 GOP candidates seeking the party's nomination for president were scheduled to speak at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images).

Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said in Iowa on Thursday that he is open to bombing drug cartels in Mexico to combat smuggling, NBC News correspondent Alex Tabet reports.

"We will absolutely reserve the right if they're invading our country and killing our people," DeSantis replied to a voter. "I said I would use whatever force we need to defend the country," he later confirmed to NBC. "We'd be willing to lean in against them, and we reserve the right to defend our country."

DeSantis, who has failed to close polling gaps between himself and the GOP's frontrunner, twice-impeached thrice-indicted former President Donald Trump, promoted "deadly force" at the border.

READ MORE: 'This is an outrage': Suspended Florida state attorney fires back at 'weak dictator' DeSantis

"We're authorizing deadly force. They try to break into our country? They will end up stone-cold dead," DeSantis pledged to his supporters. He further boasted about deploying Florida National Guard troops to Texas and helping fly unsuspecting migrants to so-called "sanctuary cities" like Martha's Vineyard.

DeSantis' comments expanded upon his telling NBC's Amanda Terkel on Monday that authorities should rely on racial profiling to assess if an individual is attempting to sneak contraband into the United States.

"Same way a police officer would know," DeSantis said. "Same way somebody operating in Iraq would know. You know, these people in Iraq at the time, they all looked the same. You didn't know who had a bomb strapped to them. So those guys have to make judgments."

Meanwhile, federal agencies calculated that foreign nationals are not the primary source of illicit substances entering the country.

READ MORE: 'Joe Biden’s the president': DeSantis says 'of course' Trump 'lost' in 2020

The Associated Press noted in 2021 that "US citizens were apprehended nearly seven times more often than Mexican citizens between October 2020 and March 31 for trying to smuggle drugs in vehicles, US Customs and Border Protection data shows. In the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, Americans were caught roughly twice as often as Mexicans."

Additionally, USA Today explained in July 2023 that "according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, 90 percent of heroin seized along the border, 88 percent of cocaine, 87 percent of methamphetamine, and 80 percent of fentanyl in the first 11 months of the 2018 fiscal year was caught trying to be smuggled in at legal crossing points."

READ MORE: 'Fascist' and 'tyrant': DeSantis blasted for ousting another elected Democratic state attorney

View Tabet's report at this link.

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