US demands Mexico cartel king El Chapo forfeit $12.7 billion in drug money

Mexican drug baron Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, above, as he was extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017 to face drug trafficking charges. (US Department of Justice/AFP)
Updated 06 July 2019
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US demands Mexico cartel king El Chapo forfeit $12.7 billion in drug money

  • Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s 25-year reign atop the Sinaloa cartel netted sales of some $11.8 billion in cocaine, $846 million in marijuana and $11 million in heroin
  • Guzman was found guilty in February of trafficking hundreds of tons of drugs to the US over the course of 25 years

NEW YORK: Prosecutors on Friday said they were seeking $12.7 billion from convicted Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel’s drug sales in the United States.
According to a motion filed by US Attorney Richard Donoghue, authorities are “entitled to forfeiture of all property that constitutes or is derived from the defendant’s narcotics-related crimes.”
Based on prices for drugs quoted by various witnesses, Guzman’s 25-year reign atop the Sinaloa cartel netted sales of some $11.8 billion in cocaine, $846 million in marijuana and $11 million in heroin, authorities said.
The money was laundered and used to pay the cartel’s workers and suppliers, as well as used to purchase communications equipment and “planes, submarines and other vehicles.”
“The government need not prove that the defendant can pay the forfeiture money judgment; it need only prove by a preponderance of evidence that the amount it seeks is forfeitable,” prosecutors said.
Guzman’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, told US media that the demand is “largely an academic exercise as the government has never located or identified even a penny of this $12.7 billion in proceeds supposedly generated by Mr. Guzman.”
Guzman, 62, was found guilty in February following a three-month trial for trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States over the course of 25 years.
He was also convicted on money laundering and weapons possession charges by jurors who heard how he had beaten, shot and even buried alive those who got in his way.
A former El Chapo associate said during the trial that the drug kingpin lived a lavish lifestyle in the 1990s — the height of his power — with four jets for traveling the world, a beachfront mansion in Acapulco and a private zoo on his sprawling estate in Guadalajara.
It was not clear which assets Guzman still possesses following his extradition to the United States in January 2017 and which have been transferred to family and friends.
Guzman is set to be sentenced on July 17, and is expected to be ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison.


Former militant Tania Joya now fights to ‘reprogram’ extremists

Updated 20 July 2019
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Former militant Tania Joya now fights to ‘reprogram’ extremists

  • Tania Joya grew up confronted by racism and the struggles of integration
  • ‘It’s really important to de-radicalize them, rehabilitate’ these people

WASHINGTON: Tania Joya has devoted her life to “reprogramming” extremists and reintroducing them into society — a process she understands well as a “former Islamic militant” herself.
“My aim is for them to feel a sense of remorse and to train them so that they can be good citizens once they are released from prison, so they can adjust to society,” Joya said during a visit to Washington, to present a project on preventing extremist violence.
Born in 1984 near London to a Muslim Bangladeshi family, Joya grew up confronted by racism and the struggles of integration. She radicalized at age 17, after the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Osama bin Laden’s call for a global jihad.
In 2004, she married an American Muslim-convert, Yahya Al-Bahrumi (born John Georgelas). She began advocating for an Islamic state, for which her three children would be soldiers.
But in 2013, her husband took her and their children against her will to northwestern Syria to join militant insurgents. Joya reported her husband to US authorities and, after three weeks, fled Syria to the United States.
Joya settled in Texas, her husband’s home state. There, she changed her life, divorced and re-married.
Yahya, her first husband, joined the Daesh group, which would soon control large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. He was in charge of the group’s English-language propaganda, and Joya said he became the “highest-ranking American” in the Daesh group.
He died in 2017 during fighting in Mayadin, in northern Syria, as the so-called Daesh “caliphate” crumbled.
However, this created a new problem — Western militants or their spouses and children wanting to come home.
Joya realized that she had something to offer. “It’s really important to de-radicalize them, rehabilitate” these people, she said.
“It’s reprogramming them and giving them a sense of hope in the political process.”
It’s also important to “get them to understand the psychology and the patterns... what led them to extremism,” understanding “the rejection many in the US and Europe faced growing up there, the cultural conflict, the crisis they went through,” she said.
“Once it’s all explained to them, very logically, they will accept it just as I did.”
Joya favors repatriating foreign rebels from the Middle East so they can be judged in their countries of origin.
While that is the US policy, many European countries such as France are wary of taking in the militants.
In May and June, 11 French nationals were sentenced to die in Iraq for their affiliation to Daesh.
Joya has campaigned for the return of Shamima Begum, who joined the militant group when she was just 15 but now wants to return home to Britain. However, Begum’s lack of remorse has turned public opinion against her, and the British government stripped her of her citizenship in February.
Kurdish-run camps in northeast Syria have taken in some 12,000 foreign fighters from 40 different countries, including 4,000 women and 8,000 children whose fathers are militants.
Countries with militants stranded in refugee camps “are responsible for these individuals,” said Joya. “We can’t just push them off to the Middle East, to the Kurdish people... the abuses they’re facing in these camps are only confirming their beliefs of radicalization.”
Joya is participating in the Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) program organized by the Clarion Program, a US non-profit dedicated to educating people “about the growing phenomenon of Islamic extremism,” according to its website.
The PVE program provides “communication models” that offer “workshops for youth so that before a child is even indoctrinated or introduced to radical ideologies, they’ve really been inoculated” against religious and ideological extremism, said national program coordinator Shireen Qudosi.
“That goes from gangs, to radical ideologies: antifa, neo-Nazi groups, Islamist extremism,” she said.