This would make for a good line in a movie script but in the reality we inhabit, it’s highly unlikely that anything like this will happen. The idea to make the notorious Mexican drug lord El Chapo pay for Trump’s border wall represents Senator Ted Cruz’ latest attempt to stay relevant by trying to help his “president” Donald Trump to keep a mad promise made on the campaign trail.
After Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was convicted in federal court in Brooklyn on February 12, Cruz urged his fellow lawmakers to pass a bill the Texas Senator had introduced in April 2017 under the somewhat cumbersome title “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order.” The fact that the acronym of the bill’s title reads “EL CHAPO” is good for a laugh but that’s about all there is to it.
While it is true that the U.S. government is seeking $14 billion from Guzmán, based on a DOJ estimate of the Sinaloa cartel’s activities, chances of ever getting hold of the cartel boss’ hidden assets are minimal. That money has been carefully laundered and hidden, most likely on Mexican soil and not in the United States.
Ted Cruz’s bill – if it ever became a law – would represent a departure from the standard practice of depositing the seized assets of convicted drug traffickers into the Department of Justice’s Assets Forfeiture Fund through which the money is then allocated to various law enforcement activities, such as training, equipment and investigations. The Texas Senator is probably aware of the fact that his idea of directing El Chapo’s forfeited assets toward the construction of the border wall is just a publicity stunt. What Donald Trump knows and understands about any of this is anybody’s guess.
However, it appears that Trump’s confidence in making a Mexican pay for the wall he campaigned on seems to be so low that he has set his sights – again – on having American taxpayers foot the bill. After the master dealmaker’s failure to secure funding for his favorite project from Congress, the next is his declaration of a national emergency – a move that is already being challenged in court. Given that he cannot get his hands on Guzmán’s money, perhaps Donald Trump should seek a private interview with “El Chapo” to at least get some useful tips from the notorious jailbreaker for the future.