U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was criticized late Tuesday after a video emerged of him at a press conference in Ecuador calling a record number of drug seizures in the country a “good news, bad news” story.
Blinken was participating in a joint press conference with Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Mauricio Montalvo in Quito, the country’s capital. The two were asked about security and migration and Blinken said narcotrafficking is a shared concern for both nations.
The U.S.’s top diplomat said both countries are working to equip police and give law enforcement the tools needed to combat trafficking.
“We are working together and facilitating what had been– in both a good news, bad news story– record drug seizures,” he said. “The good news being we’re effective, the bad news being it’s a record drug seizure—which means the problem, in a sense, is even larger.”
The Republican National Committee seized on Blinken’s comment and posted a short clip with the caption, “WATCH: Secretary of State Antony Blinken admits ‘record drug seizures’ at the border, but insists it’s a ‘good news, bad news story.”
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Bliken seemed to be referring to the trafficking situation in Ecuador. Earlier in the conference, he talked about the exceptional measures that Quito has taken to deal with the narcotrafficking.
Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso late on Monday declared a state of emergency in parts of the country over the issue, Reuters reported.
“In the streets of Ecuador there is only one enemy: drug trafficking,” Lasso said in a broadcast, according to the report. “When drug trafficking grows so do assassinations and homicides, robberies of homes, vehicles, goods and people.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
Supporters of the Biden administration would likely point to Ecuador’s cooperation as an example of the administration taking aim at the “root causes” of the border crisis and working in partnership with key countries.
Drug trafficking is also being felt at the U.S. border.
Fox News reported earlier this month at a border entry in Pharr, Texas, where Customs and Border Protection seized $1.2 million worth of cocaine and fentanyl on Oct. 1.
Mark Daniels, the sheriff of Cochise, Arizona, told “America’s Newsroom” last week that the war on drugs in the U.S. will likely worsen until the border is secure.
“They’ve set us up for failure here on the southwest border completely,” he said. “And let me give you some numbers that kind of highlight what’s going on. This fiscal year we’ve had 10,000 pounds of fentanyl, 180,000 pounds of meth, 86,000 pounds of cocaine, 5,000 pounds of heroin, and 311,000 pounds of marijuana come through the southwest border this fiscal year.”
Blinken said it was his hope that the U.S. and Ecuador continue to grow their relationship and named the country as one of the first partners in the “Build Back Better World Program.” He said the program will make investments in climate-resilient infrastructure projects, with high environmental as well as labor standards.
“That’s going to create jobs, it’s going to support local communities, it’s going to make progress against the climate crisis – all at the same time.