El Chapo

El Chapo in US custody after his extradition from Mexico, January 2017.

President Donald Trump’s much vaunted Mexican border wall could be built using the fortune of a notorious drug kingpin, according to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who has proposed the ‘El Chapo Act’.

Cruz, a one time political rival to Trump, has backed the president’s desire to build a 1,000 mile-long (1600km) barrier between the US and Mexico.

Cruz has now gone a step further by proposing the so-called ‘El Chapo Act’, or the Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order, which would use any of the $14 billion being sought by the US government in a case against Mexican drug boss Joaquín Guzmán, to construct the barrier.

Guzmán, also known as ‘El Chapo’, was transferred to New York earlier this year after being recaptured in 2016 by Mexican security forces.

The drug lord, who famously escaped twice from prison in Mexico, faces a 17-count indictment in the US related to narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and murder.

The US indictment alleges the 59-year-old, who was previously given a 20-year sentence in his homeland for murder and drug offences, led the violent Sinaloa Cartel and amassed “$14 billion from narcotics sales throughout the United States and Canada.”

“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,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”

Guzmán, who will face trial in New York, has pleaded not guilty. Earlier this week it emerged how ‘El Chapo’ spends 23 hours a day locked in a cell within New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, following fears he could stage another escape or organize criminal undertakings from the inside.

In February, Reuters reported how the US Department of Homeland Security estimated that a barrier stretching between the US and Mexico would cost around $21.6 billion.

The ‘El Chapo Act’ also proposes to use funds seized from “other convicted cartel members” to boost southern border security.

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