Saturday, February 24, 2024

US seeks $12.7 billion judgement against El Chapo Guzmán

United States authorities are seeking a court order for the forfeiture of nearly US $12.7 billion by convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The amount sought by prosecutors represents the total amount of illegal drugs a jury determined that Guzmán had trafficked to the United States multiplied by the average price of those narcotics, according to a motion filed in a New York court.

The former head of the Sinaloa Cartel was found to have obtained just over $11.8 billion in illicit resources as a result of the trafficking of cocaine, $846 million from marijuana sales and $11 million from heroin.

The cocaine revenue came from the shipment of more than 528 tonnes of the drug to the United States.

United States authorities are “entitled to forfeiture of all property that constitutes or is derived from the defendant’s narcotics-related crimes, as well as any property that facilitated the commission of those crimes” said a motion filed by attorney Richard Donoghue.

However, the news agency Reuters reported that it wasn’t immediately clear what assets United States authorities could seize to satisfy the amount sought.

Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for the notorious drug lord, said “this is largely an academic exercise as the government has never located or identified a penny of this $12.7 billion in proceeds supposedly generated by Mr. Guzmán.”

Guzmán was found guilty on 10 charges of drug trafficking on February 12 after a three-month trial during which jurors heard testimony about the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel and intimate details about the lavish life of its onetime leader.

Among the evidence presented by 56 witnesses was a claim that Guzmán paid a $100 million bribe to former president Enrique Peña Nieto.

He will be sentenced on July 17 and is expected to be given life imprisonment.

On Wednesday, Judge Brian Cogan denied a request for Guzmán’s guilty verdict to be set aside and for another trial to be held.

Lawyers for the 62-year-old trafficker argued for a trial after Vice News published an interview with an unnamed member of the jury that convicted Guzmán.

The juror said that at least five other jurors violated the judge’s orders by following the case in the media during the trial.

Government prosecutors opposed a retrial on the grounds that the veracity of the interview that Vice News published could not be verified.

Mexico extradited Guzmán to the United States in January 2017, a year after he was captured in Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

Six months before that, the drug lord escaped from a maximum security penitentiary in México state via a tunnel, his second prison break after exiting a Jalisco jail in a laundry cart in 2001.

As he awaits his July 17 sentencing appearance, Guzmán is being held in a federal jail in Manhattan. His 91-year-old mother was granted a humanitarian visa last month so that she can visit her son in prison.

“I hope they will allow me to give him a hug . . . and I wish they would free him,” María Consuelo Loera Pérez said.

Source: EFE (sp) 

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