Border wall funding has been more than a hot topic; it was a primary cause for the last government shutdown. President Donald Trump said it would take $5.7 billion to build a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, but Congress has yet to allocate the funding. Now, Sen. Ted Cruz thinks he has a solution, and it involves El Chapo.
Instead of using taxpayer funds to build the wall or hounding Mexico to pay for a barrier that they don’t think is necessary, Cruz is proposing that some of the billions that were confiscated from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious drug lord, be used for the construction of the wall.
On Tuesday, according to a report by the Daily Wire, El Chapo was found guilty on ten federal criminal counts, all stemming from his time heading up Sinaloa, a Mexican drug cartel. Nine of the federal counts come with a minimum prison sentence of 10 years. The top count – engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise – has a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
While pursuing El Chapo, billions of dollars in cash as well as billions in “solid” assets, including “gold-plated AK-47s and monogrammed, diamond-encrusted pistols,” were confiscated by federal authorities.
At the time of his capture in 2016, over $14 billion in seized assets was in the control of federal agents.
Prosecutors are striving for a forfeiture judgment against El Chapo. If given, all of the assets would officially become the property of the federal government.
Cruz believes that some of those assets should be used to fund the border wall, a structure that would theoretically make it harder for drug lords to traffic cocaine, heroin, and marijuana into the United States through the southern border.
To support his idea, Cruz introduced a piece of legislation called the “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order,” or EL CHAPO, Act.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 12, 2019
“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” said Cruz in a statement.
He also posted a tweet, stating, “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.”
A nearly identical bill has also been proposed in the House by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
“The DEA has estimated that the gross receipts of the Mexican drug trade are somewhere between $19-$29 billion a year,” said Sensenbrenner in an interview. “We don’t have to be 100 percent efficient to get the money we need to completely pay for the wall relatively quickly.”
On Tuesday morning, Republicans and Democrats came to a budget compromise, allocating only $1.4 billion for the construction of the border wall. However, it still must pass the House and Senate, and ultimately be signed by Trump, before it becomes official.