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

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.


Tradition, modernity mingle at Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shouts “banzai,” meaning “long live the emperor,” during the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 51 min 51 sec ago

Tradition, modernity mingle at Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

  • Ritual-bound, centuries-old ceremony takes places at Imperial Palace in Tokyo
  • Heads of state and officials from Japan and 180 countries among the attendees

TOKYO: It was a ceremony similar to coronations used by monarchs worldwide, but combining the historical and the spiritual with modernity. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito formally completed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22.
Purple curtains were drawn back to reveal Naruhito, 59, and Empress Masako, 55, standing before their imperial thrones as the enthronement ceremony began.
Wearing a dark orange robe, similar to that worn by his father Akihito at his own enthronement in 1990, Naruhito proclaimed his ascension from a 6.5 meter-high, canopied “Takamikura” throne.
Through the centuries-old ceremony, Naruhito declared himself Japan’s 126th emperor and vowed to “stand with the people” before roughly 2,000 guests, including heads of state and officials from Japan and more than 180 countries. Among the attendees were Japanese royal family members also wearing traditional robes.
In his congratulatory message to the emperor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised that the people of Japan would “respect (his) highness the emperor as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the Japanese people.” He then stood before Naruhito’s throne, bowed and raised his hands three times, shouting “banzai,” meaning “long live the emperor.”
Saudi Arabia was represented by Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, who conveyed greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Japanese people.Saudi Ambassador to Japan Naif bin Marzouq Al-Fahadi, and other Saudi officials, were also present.

Japan’s Princess Mako attended the enthronement ceremony. (AFP)


The enthronement ceremony is a part of a succession of rituals that began in May when Naruhito inherited the throne, after Akihito became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.
As Naruhito ascended the throne, boxes containing items of imperial regalia, including an imperial sword and jewel, were presented to him.
“Having previously succeeded to the Imperial Throne in accordance with the constitution of Japan and the Special Measures Law on the Imperial House Law, I now … proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad,” the Japan Times newspaper quoted Naruhito as declaring.
“I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state, and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always wishing for the happiness of the people and the peace of the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them.” An imperial procession that was to take place after the ceremony was postponed after Typhoon Hagibis hit Tokyo earlier this month. On Nov. 10, the emperor and empress will take part in a procession through central Tokyo to the Akasaka Imperial Residence.
To mark the enthronement, the government has granted pardons to more than half a million people found guilty of petty crimes such as traffic violations.
In an article for Arab News, Shihoko Goto, deputy director for geoeconomics at the Asia Program of the US think tank the Wilson Center, asked a question she believes will be echoed by many in Japan: “Can the country carry on its historical legacy while embracing the opportunities of the 21st century? “The new imperial couple is likely to want to further Emperor Akihito’s legacy as a conduit for reconciliation.”