President López Obrador will seek to seize the assets of former drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, although some United States lawmakers have already got their eyes on the loot.
A United States federal judge sentenced Guzmán to life in prison plus 30 years yesterday and ordered him to pay US $12.6 billion in reparation. The amount is the estimated value of the drugs he was accused of smuggling into the U.S.
López Obrador said today that he believed the money rightfully belonged to Mexico.
“I believe that everything confiscated that has to do with Mexico should be returned to Mexico, to the Mexican people, and I believe that the United States government is going to agree to turn [it] over . . . but we have to go through the process, because I don’t remember another time when [the Mexican government] has asked for resources to be returned.”
The president said that while previous administrations had never asked for the return of confiscated drug money, the possibility had been brought to his attention by Guzmán’s lawyer, José Luis González Meza.
“I listened to El Chapo’s lawyer, and he said something interesting: that the confiscated money legally belonged to Mexico in any case. And we will be looking into the matter. I agree with what El Chapo’s lawyer said, and we’re going to look into it.”
But some U.S. congressmen, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse have other ideas. They say the money should be used to fund President Trump’s border wall.
López Obrador said he did not expect the amount to be as large as estimated.
“Before they said that [he] was one of the richest [people] in the world, but I don’t believe that actually coincided with reality. They inflated the numbers when in reality there were other traffickers with much more money, but they inflated them for political reasons or for publicity. Now we need to look at his wealth seriously and honestly.”
Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard has been given the task of recuperating the former drug trafficker’s fortune, whatever it’s worth.