New York City: U.S. prosecutors are seeking to seize billions of dollars in assets connected to convicted drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday that he believes the money should be used to build a border wall with Mexico.
In reference to Guzmán’s conviction on 10 criminal counts — including drug trafficking, weapons violations and operating a continuing criminal enterprise — Cruz tweeted: “U.S. prosecutors are seeking $14 billion in drug profits & other assets from El Chapo which should go towards funding our wall to #SecureTheBorder.”
It’s a nod to a previously introduced bill. The “EL CHAPO Act” — or “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act” — was first introduced in April 2017 and reintroduced in January of this year.
“The bill would reserve any amounts forfeited to the U.S. Government as a result of the criminal prosecution of ‘El Chapo’ … and other drug lords for border security assets and the completion of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border,” a January release from Cruz says.
The idea has particular relevance this week. Guzmán was convicted Tuesday and lawmakers are currently sparing on border security funding issues as another possible government shutdown looms.
Prosecutors have said Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel generated billions of dollars by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.
Senator Ted Cruz @SenTedCruz: America’s justice system prevailed today in convicting Joaquín Guzmán Loera, aka El Chapo, on all 10 counts. U.S. prosecutors are seeking $14 billion in drug profits & other assets from El Chapo which should go towards funding our wall to #SecureTheBorder.
But the EL CHAPO Act has faced skepticism before since most of the assets sought by U.S. authorities are likely in Mexican territory.
“The lion’s share of any of his assets seized, rightfully — by law and agreement — belong to Mexico. They are unlikely to find much — certainly not $14 billion. Mexico will never agree,” the publication quoted Bruce M. Bagley, a University of Miami professor who has written on drug trafficking in the Americas.
The unpopularity of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall in Mexico could further complicate enforcement of the act, if it were to pass, Forbes reported.