Sen. Ted Cruz is proposing a new source of funding for a border wall: recently convicted drug kingpin El Chapo.
Guzman was found guilty Tuesday of 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. Cruz has proposed several times that El Chapo pay for a border wall, including in an Opinion piece in The Washington Post last week.
In a response to the piece, El Chapo’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said that is unlikely to happen.
“Sen. Cruz surely knows that the government has seized none – not a penny – of Mr. Guzman’s assets so getting him to pay for the wall is ludicrous,” Lichtman said Sunday. “There’s a better chance of Mr. Cruz paying for the wall.”
He declined to comment on Guzman’s assets.
Property’s believed worth as high as $14 billion
The leader of the violent Sinaloa drug cartel faces a mandatory life sentence. Federal prosecutors also plan to seek a forfeiture judgment for the property Guzman gained from drug trafficking. The value of that property is believed to be as high as $14 billion.
After Guzman’s conviction on Tuesday, Cruz renewed calls to use the money for border security.
“U.S. prosecutors are seeking $14 billion in drug profits and other assets from El Chapo which should go towards funding our wall to #SecureTheBorder,” the Texas Republican wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to pass my EL CHAPO Act. I urge my Senate colleagues to take swift action on this crucial legislation.”
Cruz originally introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act in April of 2017. It would reserve any “illegally obtained profits resulting from any criminal drug trafficking enterprise led by Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera” for border security measures, which could include a wall. This includes any funds forfeited by Guzman in this case or future cases involving his former associates.
Cruz reintroduced the bill last month.
“By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and other murderous drug lords, we can offset the cost of securing our border and make meaningful progress toward delivering on the promises made to the American people,” Cruz said in a statement at the time.