Drugs

'El Chapo' Guzman's $16B in assets belong to Mexico, congressman claims

Authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a plane in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. on Jan. 19, 2017.

Authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a plane in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. on Jan. 19, 2017.  (Reuters)

Members of the main opposition force in Mexico are demanding the federal government to take the necessary steps to claim the entirety of assets seized to drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, recently extradited to the United States.

On Wednesday Congressman Jorge Ramos Hernández, from the National Action Party (PAN), claimed Guzman’s fortune amounts to at least $16 billion and must be ceded to Mexico to restore the damages caused by the trafficker’s illicit activities.

“We are demanding that the federal government bring up the issue with President Trump so that [the U.S.] also covers this criminal’s extradition bill and so that the return of the total amount that corresponds to our country is guaranteed to the Mexican people,” said Ramos Hernandez.

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He said that according to federal law, confiscated assets must be distributed between the countries that participated in the capture. “And it is public knowledge – he said – that in this case [Guzman] was captured thanks to actions entirely in the hands of the Mexican government and [was a result of] a total autonomous action.”

Back in June, Excelsior newspaper reported that courts in New York and Illinois were claiming a total of $21.6 billion to cover damages stemming from the Sinaloa’s cartel drug trafficking.

According to the paper’s sources, a judge in the Eastern District of New York had ordered the confiscation of at least $14 billion in cash from the trafficking of more than 465 tons of cocaine into the U.S. between September 1999 and February 2014.

In the Northern District of Illinois, court papers allege the cartel’s profit between 1990 and 2009 was at least $5.8 billion, while Chicago’s FBI division says U.S. authorities are claiming another $ 1.8 billion.

The U.S. and Mexico reportedly have been negotiating Guzman’s assets since June 2016.

"The governments of the United States and Mexico are talking about this issue,” a U.S. diplomatic source told Excelsior. “We hope that if convicted there will be a fair division of goods between the two countries, in accordance to what is predominantly done in this type of cases," he said.