Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to life plus thirty years in prison Wednesday for running an operation that trafficked an estimated $12.6 billion worth of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and synthetic fentanyl into the United States over nearly three decades.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) renewed his calls for legislation to make Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and other drug lords pay for President Trump’s wall along the Mexican border in the wake of his sentencing.
In a brief interview with TMZ released early Thursday, Cruz cheered the life sentence handed down to Guzmán in a federal courtroom in New York earlier this week.
“I think it’s great that he was sentenced,” he told the outlet. “I think the next step is to criminally forfeit his entire global criminal enterprise. It’s worth billions and we should use every penny of that money to build the wall and secure the border.”
“It’s why I introduced legislation, the EL CHAPO Act, to use that money to build the wall,” he continued, referring to the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act he reintroduced earlier this year.
Cruz went on to dismiss claims about the drug lord being bankrupt, saying, “He a ran a global criminal cartel and the Department of Justice has estimated he has in excess of $12 billion.”
“Now finding those assets, getting those assets, won’t be easy,” he continued.
“But we should and the Department of Justice will do its very best to do that,” Cruz said, adding, “It’s only fitting. He made that money trafficking narcotics illegally into this country.”
“It’s only fitting that money goes to secure the border and stop other traffickers,” Cruz said.
When pressed by TMZ about whether Trump is on board with the idea, Cruz said he’s talked to the president “directly” and he is “enthusiastic about the idea.”
El Chapo, long considered one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world, was arrested and brought to the U.S after he escaped from two Mexican prisons. He is noted by The New York Times as ‘a brutal Mexican cartel leader, a wily trafficker who smuggled more than $12 billion worth of drugs and plunged his country into a long-running tragedy of bloodshed and corruption’.