Mexico and the U.S. at odds over El Chapo's fortune

President López Obrador said that Guzmán's money should stay in Mexico

Mexico and the U.S. at odds over El Chapo's fortune
El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison plus another 30 years - Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 18/07/2019 14:23 Alberto Morales y Misael Zavala Mexico City Actualizada 14:33
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After Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years, judge Brian Cogan also ordered the drug lord to pay USD $12,600 million; nevertheless, El Chapo's defense denies the existence of said fortune.

In Mexico, the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit under the Finance Ministry, Santiago Nieto Castillo, said that Mexican authorities are working in collaboration with the embassy and U.S. authorities to investigate El Chapo's assets.

Just as the prosecutors had requested, the judge ordered the confiscation of over USD 12,000 million as a compensation for the drug trafficking “El Chapo” carried out in the U.S. The forfeiture was calculated based on the notion that the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel commercialized 528,276 kilos of cocaine, 202 kilos of heroin, and 423,000 kilos of marijuana.

Nevertheless, Jeffrey Lichtman, El Chapo's lawyer, claims that the sum is “mainly an academic exercise because the U.S. government has never located or identified one cent of those millions of dollars in profits that Mr. Guzmán allegedly generated.”

Yesterday, the lawyer insisted that the money is part of “this fiction,” as he called the trial of the century, where El Chapo was sentenced for 10 charges linked to drug trafficking. “If there are no assets, he can't pay anything,” he said.

José Luis González Meza, El Chapo's lawyer in Mexico, said that the money the U.S. government claims Guzmán obtained from drug trafficking “was generated in Mexico (…) The money doesn't belong to the U.S. government, but to Mexico's government.”

Moreover, the U.S. authorities have yet to explain how they plan to obtain Guzmán's money.

Santiago Nieto explained that the Financial Intelligence Unit is currently analyzing the information in regards to the case. He also emphasized that as part of the new strategy against organized crime, López Obrador's government has frozen the accounts and assets to affect the criminals' economic capacity.

People expected that El Chapo's trial shed some light in regards to the financial networks used by the drug lord and his organization since he was found guilty of money laundering but this wasn't the case. Writer Malcolm Beith, the author of The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord, said that “the evidence that emerged from the trial, about the corruption in the financial networks, was especially minimum.”

Years ago, it was revealed that English bank HSBC managed USD $881 million owned by Mexican cartels, including the Sinaloa cartel but in 2012, the bank reached an agreement to avoid charges by paying a USD $1,900 million fine.

The U.S. government hands confiscated assets to the Assets Forfeiture Fund, which is used to pay compensations to victims of crimes related to drug trafficking or to finance investigations or purchase equipment.

Earlier today, President López Obrador said that Guzmán's money should stay in Mexico.


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