Sen. Ted Cruz clarified his suggestion that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman should pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall after the drug kingpin’s lawyer fired back.
The Texas Republican has repeatedly called for seized profits from convicted drug lords to go toward border security measures and reiterated his stand as the billionaire drug runner was convicted last week on 10 counts, including narcotics trafficking, money laundering and other drug-related charges.
Cruz, who first introduced the “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act” in 2017, again pressed the legislation last week, urging his Senate colleagues to “take swift action” on the bill which “would reserve any amounts forfeited to the U.S. Government as a result of the criminal prosecution of “El Chapo” (formally named Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea) and other drug lords for border security assets and the completion of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 12, 2019
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post last week, Cruz doubled down on the idea that the federal government should use the $14 billion in “ill-gotten revenue” from the “death, addiction and misery” trafficked by the former leader of the murderous Sinaloa cartel.
President Trump reacted to the senator’s proposal, calling it an “interesting” suggestion.
President Trump on Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) suggestion that assets seized from Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin El Chapo could pay for the border wall: “It’s always interesting, anything Ted does is interesting. That’s certainly an interesting one.” pic.twitter.com/Hw5Qg42QUp
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 13, 2019
But Guzman’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, effectively told Cruz not to hold his breath.
“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, according to CNN. “There’s a better chance of Mr. Cruz paying for the wall.”
Cruz fired back with a clarification for the “confused” lawyer that his comments were not a suggestion for the convicted Mexican drug lord who faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. In fact, the GOP lawmaker noted, his remarks never even suggested the contribution would be voluntary.
El Chapo’s lawyer seems confused. Nobody is asking for voluntary contributions. After El Chapo’s 10 convictions, DOJ will begin criminal forfeiture proceedings to seize every penny of El Chapo’s $14 Bn illicit fortune. My legislation would, in turn, use those $ to build the wall. https://t.co/pAh7l4pnP9
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 17, 2019
The notorious drug lord was recaptured in 2016 after escaping from a Mexican prison via a secret underground tunnel. Mexican authorities used heavy artillery and grenades in the stunning raid on Guzman’s compound.
“I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world,” Guzmán was quoted in a controversial interview with actor Sean Penn which ran in Rolling Stone magazine while he was on the run. “I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”
Cruz argued in his op-ed that his proposal “sidesteps” funding problems created by Democrats who refuse to budge on President Trump’s demands to fund the border wall.
“The Democratic Party should embrace this solution,” the Texas senator wrote. “Everyone should support taking money from murderers, drug smugglers and human traffickers such as El Chapo and using it to prevent murder, drug smuggling and human trafficking — all without costing the American taxpayers one dime, or adding anything to the federal budget.”
His snarky takedown of the drug kingpin’s lawyer drew applause and support on social media.
— Texas Knight (@TXKnights) February 17, 2019
Finally. Conservatives found a backbone
— Clandestine Rosenstein (@ClandestineRos1) February 17, 2019
This is the best common sense I’ve heard all day. Thank you Senator Cruz!!!
— njman12079 (@FeldsteinRyan) February 17, 2019
Yes. This is the right move.
— Erincognita (@erincognita) February 17, 2019
Yes! Seize El Chapo’s billions. Build the wall and give every single border patrol agent a bonus paycheck! @SenTedCruz
— TenNamesLater (@TenNamesLater) February 17, 2019
You’re a ROCKSTAR! 🌟
— Too Old to C-O-D-E (@KeleJohnson) February 17, 2019
in essence mexico would actually be pay for the wall! 🇺🇸😃
— Andrew MCGaw (@UncleAndy46) February 18, 2019
This Ted Cruz, and only this Ted Cruz, is my favorite Ted Cruz. https://t.co/v3yIjt2Xay
— 𝕄att 𝕁oseph 𝕄isetich (@SPMJM) February 17, 2019