Sen. Ted Cruz is proposing a new source of funding for a border wall: recently convicted drug kingpin El Chapo.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was found guilty Tuesday of 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
The leader of the violent Sinaloa drug cartel faces a mandatory life sentence. Federal prosecutors also plan to seek a forfeiture judgment for the property Guzman gained from drug trafficking. The value of that property is believed to be as high as $14 billion.
After Guzman’s conviction on Tuesday, Cruz renewed calls to use the money for border security.
“U.S. prosecutors are seeking $14 billion in drug profits and other assets from El Chapo which should go towards funding our wall to #SecureTheBorder,” the Texas Republican wrote on Twitter. “It’s time to pass my EL CHAPO Act. I urge my Senate colleagues to take swift action on this crucial legislation.”
Cruz originally introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act in April of 2017. It would reserve any “illegally obtained profits resulting from any criminal drug trafficking enterprise led by Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera” for border security measures, which could include a wall. This includes any funds forfeited by Guzman in this case or future cases involving his former associates.
Cruz reintroduced the bill last month.
“By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and other murderous drug lords, we can offset the cost of securing our border and make meaningful progress toward delivering on the promises made to the American people,” Cruz said in a statement at the time.
The reintroduction of the bill and Cruz’s renewed pressure on colleagues to pass it comes as both chambers of Congress prepare to move forward on a border security spending deal drafted by a bipartisan group of negotiators.
The deal, which President Donald Trump needs to sign by 11:59 p.m. Friday to prevent a partial government shutdown, includes $1.375 billion in funding for 55 miles of a border wall. The amount is less than half of the $5 billion Trump initially asked for.
The wall has been a rallying point for the President since his campaign in 2016, when he promised voters a border wall would be paid for by Mexico.
Trump has argued that the wall is necessary to prevent the flow of criminals into the United States through the southern border.
The EL CHAPO Act was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.