Rep. Vern Buchanan: Use El Chapo's $14 billion in assets to secure our southern border and save lives
Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera is scheduled to be sentenced in July. It's time to put his confiscated assets to work building a wall at the southern border with Mexico.
Famously known by his diminutive Spanish moniker, El Chapo was found guilty of all 10 federal criminal counts against him in February, including trafficking tons of narcotics, operating a continuing criminal enterprise, and weapons violations.
Through his vast wealth, the former leader of the murderous Sinaloa Cartel ruled through fear, bloodshed, and bribery of law enforcement and public officials. Once behind bars in a maximum security prison, it will be the coda to a story that reads like a telenovela.
JOAQUIN 'EL CHAPO' GUZMAN DENIED OUTDOOR EXERCISE, EARPLUGS IN PRISON DUE TO ESCAPE FEATS
The elusive drug kingpin was infamous for his grip of power in parts of Mexico where he arguably commanded more authority than the Mexican government. And in a testament to his power and influence, he embodied the cleverness of a Bond villain by twice escaping from Mexican prison.
With the end of El Chapo’s reign of wreaking havoc on the American and Mexican people, we have a real opportunity to use his assets to save lives.
Although he is likely to live the rest of his days behind bars, one question remains: what will happen to his drug money?
I’m calling on Congress to pass the El CHAPO Act, legislation I’ve co-sponsored that will divert billions of dollars’ worth of his seized assets for a much-needed purpose — to help secure the Southern border. Once listed on Forbes’ Billionaire List, Guzman’s drug empire amassed an estimated $14 billion from narcotic sales responsible for destroying the lives of millions of Americans.
As President Trump looks to continue securing the southern border and protecting the American people, Congress should pass this commonsense measure to redirect his cash to help staunch the flow of drugs and violence into our communities.
With hundreds of thousands of migrants continuing to illegally cross our Southern border, the evidence is irrefutable: there is a crisis at our southern border.
Consider these facts.
Just last month, southwest border apprehensions totaled 144,278, representing a 623 percent increase from May 2017. And the U.S. is on pace to apprehend one million migrants by the end of the fiscal year in October.
Since last October, the U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations has encountered more than 11,000 illegal aliens convicted of a crime attempting to cross the border. During this same period, the two agencies seized a combined 395,000 pounds of drugs.
With sheer profit in mind, human smugglers encourage the journey of illegal crossing and put many migrants at risk. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has credited recent upticks of illegal immigration on human traffickers who use loopholes in U.S. immigration enforcement.
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Statistics and anecdotes, however, do not fully convey the grave condition of our porous border and broken immigration system. Again, strengthening our laws and securing our southern border is necessary. That shouldn’t be a political controversy. America is a nation of immigrants, but it is also a nation of laws.
With the end of El Chapo’s reign of wreaking havoc on the American and Mexican people, we have a real opportunity to use his assets to save lives. Time for Congress to get the El CHAPO Act to President Trump’s desk.
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