U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act, which reserves forfeited assets from drug lords to pay for various security measures along the U.S.-Mexico border, including President Trump’s proposed border wall.
The bill was named after former Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Lorea, known by the pseudonym El Chapo, who was recently captured and extradited to the United States by Mexican law enforcement authorities. Currently, the United States is seeking the criminal forfeiture of approximately $14 billion in illicit profits from Lorea for numerous drug-related offenses.
Cruz’s bill comes in the wake of a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to charge Lorea with offenses related to operating a criminal enterprise through his leadership of the Sinaloa cartel. Lorea’s indictment alleges over a 20-year period that his cartel imported and distributed massive amounts of illicit narcotics while conspiring to murder individuals who posed a threat to Lorea’s leadership or cartel operations.
“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. “…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.”