Things That Matter

‘El Chapo’ Guzman Wants To Give His Giant Drug Fortune To Indigenous Mexicans

Convicted Mexican cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman wants his drug fortune to be redistributed amongst Mexico’s indigenous people. Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador agrees. El Chapo forfeited $12.7 billion to the United States following his 10-count indictment and conviction of racketeering and drug trafficking crimes. 

You can’t really argue with President Lopez Obrador or El Chapo on this front. That money was made and harvested in Mexico, and presumably many Mexican citizens were exploited and harmed in the process. If the money is being confiscated, it isn’t unreasonable that El Chapo pays back those damages to the people he hurt. Nor is it so farfetched that the money is redistributed for the betterment of Mexican citizens. Moreover, wouldn’t it be nice to see how angry it makes President Trumpito? Puts a smile on your face, doesn’t it? 

Could $12.7 billion really be given to Indigenous Mexicans? 

In July this summer, US authorities acquired a court order that forced El Chapo to forfeit $12.7 billion earned as a drug lord. However, the 62-year-old has never admitted to earning billions of dollars (for the obvious legal reasons). Moreover, it is merely a calculated estimate based on average drug prices. However, the United States believes the sum is roughly the amount the Sinola Cartel leader earned from trafficking cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. 

“This is largely an academic exercise as the government has never located or identified a penny of this $12.7 billion in proceeds supposedly generated by Mr. Guzman,” said Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for Guzman.

Nevertheless, his lawyer Jose Gonzalez Meza says if that money exists, El Chapo has thoughts. 

“He says, well, if that money exists … that money does not belong to the United States; it belongs to Mexico,” Gonzalez Meza told Reuters. “And he asks for President Lopez Obrador to allocate (the money) to the indigenous communities.”

El Chapo began floating the idea from the Colorado maximum-security prison he is held in to his mother and sisters in August, according to the lawyer.

Who is El Chapo? 

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is thought to have been the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. A Mexican drug lord of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo was first captured in Guatemala and extradited to Mexico in 1993. Following a 20-year prison sentence for murder and trafficking, El Chapo was able to bribe prison guards and escape in 2001. 

For over a decade he was a fugitive until being recaptured again in 2014. In 2015, he escaped once again through a tunnel in his jail cell. Following a shoot out in 2016, Mexican authorities were able to extradite him to the United States where he had indictments in over seven U.S. federal courts. It wasn’t until 2019, that El Chapo was found guilty on at least 10 charges including homicide, money laundering, and drug trafficking with intent to distribute. El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and was ordered to forfeit more than $12.7 billion. 

A different kind of “Robin Hood.”

Earlier this year, President Lopez Obrador launched the creation of a Robin Hood-like institute that would redistribute nefarious-gotten wealth back to Mexican citizens. He supported El Chapo’s idea. 

“I liked the declaration. I don’t know if it’s true. I can’t verify it, but if it’s as it came out in the media, that a lawyer says Guzman wants his wealth to be given to Mexico’s indigenous communities, I think it’s good,” he said.

The President simply wants any Mexican criminal forfeitures to help the people who were most hurt by them. He said the Mexican government would take “all necessary legal actions” to ensure this would happen. 

“Also, we have started a process because we want everything that’s confiscated in the United States from criminals or suspected criminals from Mexico is returned to Mexico,” he added.

Hope for indigenous Mexicans.

In the 1970s, President Lopez Obrador worked with indigenous communities in Tabasco. Mexico’s indigenous population continues to be the most marginalized in the country and Lopez Obrador has vowed to improve conditions for them. 

According to a census conducted by the National Council for Evaluation of Social Development Policy, 71.9% of Mexico’s indigenous population lived in extreme poverty in 2016. Around 71.3% of indigenous people reported earning minimum wage or less, while 19.8% of indigenous people between ages 30 and 64 could not read or write. These disparities are largely attributed to the inaccessibility of food, social welfare, and basic shelter services. 

While El Chapo’s fortune and how much of it the United States actually has, remains somewhat of a mystery, we know there is at least some money. This man wouldn’t be considered the most powerful drug lord in the world otherwise. Using that money to enrich Mexican citizens feels a lot more like justice than letting the wealthiest nation in the world keep it to do what… pay for a border wall most people don’t want? 

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