SARASOTA, Fla. - A Bay Area congressman says he wants to use a Mexican drug king's $12-billion fortune to fund the president's border wall.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a lifetime of crimes he committed as the leader of a global drug cartel that flowed narcotics onto America's streets.
“I think it's great that he's sentenced. I think the next step is to criminally forfeit his entire global criminal enterprise,” Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas) told TMZ.
El Chapo is well-known for his escapes from prison, having cronies on the outside tunnel into prisons to help him escape. Now, Cruz and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota) want to use El Chapo’s forfeited assets to build a wall.
Both lawmakers sponsored bills in their representative houses for the EL CHAPO Act, or Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act.
“We can't seem to come together as Democrats and Republicans. This is the way to get the funds without taking it out of the treasury,” said Buchanan.
Law enforcement usually uses confiscated assets to equip officers, compensate victims, or fund community programs. It's unclear if Congress can use El Chapo’s money for the border wall.
“It's only fitting. He made that money trafficking narcotics illegally into this country, so it's only fitting that that money goes to secure the border and stop other traffickers like he was,” said Cruz.
Policy experts said forfeited money goes into a trust fund, and the Department of Justice decides how it is used. Cruz and Buchanan believe there’s good momentum for the wall fund.
“Now finding those assets and getting those assets won't be easy. We should, and the Department of Justice will do its very best to do that. But we ought to use that money,” added Cruz.
While Congress waits for the bills to work through the proper channels, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obradoris is fighting for the drug lord’s fortune to be returned to Mexico. He said El Chapo’s money is Mexican, and it would be used for anti-poverty programs.