How can we get Mexico to pay for the border wall? How, indeed! Here’s one idea that most might find agreeable.
On Jan. 20, then-Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates announced that Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman-Loera — AKA “El Chapo” — was to be arraigned as he faced multiple drug-related charges stemming from his alleged operation of the Sinaloa cartel. Yates said he would be prosecuted for 17 counts of criminal activity including murder, human and drug trafficking, money-laundering and a host of other complaints across the United States. A week ago Guzman’s attorneys were fighting the legality of extradition, but the trial now seems fairly certain.
After extradition, it’s clear President Trump will get a day in court on behalf of the people of the United States versus Guzman-Loera. And the president has a personal stake in seeing there are no slip-ups in this prosecution!
Over the years, Guzman reportedly has amassed a fortune through terror, smuggling and corruption to elude prosecution. His extradition from Mexico was contingent on the United States agreeing to prosecute Guzman without seeking a death sentence. Make no mistake, the brutality of Guzman and his cartel compadres warrants death sentences. However, at this early date, it’s not clear what will transpire during his trial.
But the real issue is not the criminal trial but the forfeiture proceedings that go with it.
Guzman has been prominent in the cartel since 1989 and reportedly played a part in the assassination of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Guzman expanded his holdings through his network and drug pipeline into the United States. However, he was already well established in the drug trade as proceeds from drug trafficking netted him about $1.5 billion between 1987 and 1990. He reportedly has been able to increase his profits through the drug trade nearly tenfold.
That’s a lot of money that could find better use securing our border.
A campaign cornerstone of our new president’s election was his promise of building a “great wall” along the U.S.-Mexican border to curtail the influx of illegal aliens and drugs from points south. Democrats believe the estimated cost to be about $14 billion and there’s no way to pay for it. Other sources estimate differently — up to $25 billion — but any wall isn’t going to be cheap!
President Trump promised us that this wall will be paid for by Mexico, a promise Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto dismisses. Trump has laid out several ways the payment could be made. He acknowledges it’ll be “complicated” but that it will be done. I believe there is a way to get the wall paid for and have full control over payment. It goes back to the forfeiture proceedings cited earlier.
The United States seeks forfeiture of more than $14 billion in cash proceeds from drugs and illicit profits that Guzman has been able to amass. The case can and should be made that, because of his drug and human trafficking and the murders along the border and into central Mexico, the wall has become necessary for our welfare and survival. American citizens killed by illegal aliens, gang wars instigated because of the drug influx, money used to assassinate government officials and fix elections in Mexico are reasonable justification for seizure of assets and cash even beyond the $14 billion sought by the U.S. Justice Department.
(It’s also very possible there could have been interference in our own elections, perhaps only on the state or local level, by operatives within the cartels to ensure a favorable climate for the drug trade here. My opinion!)
It’s a good bet such a forfeiture could offset taxpayer impact while denying any claims to the proceeds by the Mexican government or others who might feel entitled to the cash. Surely attaching all of El Chapo’s wealth and earmarking it for payment of our border wall could motivate the Trump Justice Department to fight their case earnestly, wisely and diligently. In a wonderfully delicious twist, the Guzman conviction — even without the death penalty — could see his criminal enterprise funding the means to deprive further criminal endeavors impacting U.S. citizens.
Maybe he could even get a prison cell with a barred window facing that wall emblazoned with the words: “Thanks, Chapo, for paying for this wall!”
Pete Commander is a 14-year Navy veteran who served as a hospital corpsman and is a registered respiratory therapist. He holds a master of arts degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.