Payback time: US seeking billions of dollars from ‘El Chapo’

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US prosecutors have said they are seeking a court order that would require Joaquin Guzman, who is better known as El Chapo, to pay $12.7bn (£11.3bn) in forfeits, after he was jailed in February.

The number represents the total amount of cocaine, marijuana and heroin that Guzman was found guilty of trafficking, multiplied by the average prices of the drugs at the time.

It is not clear what assets, if any, the US could seize from Guzman, that would satisfy the judgement.

Payback time: US seeking billions of dollars from 'El Chapo'
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Guzman was convicted of trafficking earlier in the year. Pic: US Department of Justice.

Prosecutors called the amount a “conservative” estimate of the money that Guzman’s business earned him and they pointed to weeks of testimonies from drug suppliers during his trial.

The profits were said to have covered pay roll, as well as the purchase of planes, submarines and other vehicles.

A spokesperson for the prosecution declined to comment.

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

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Back in February, Guzman was found guilty on all 10 of the counts he faced, after a jury heard testimonies from more that 50 witnesses, who offered a unique look at the inner workings of his Sinaloa Cartel.

He faces life in prison when he is sentenced later this month.



Payback time: US seeking billions of dollars from 'El Chapo'




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Earlier in the week, a judge refused to give Guzman a retrial, after his lawyers accused the jury of misconduct.

It came as an interview was published in Vice News with a juror on the trial who alleged that the jury knowingly disobeyed court orders to not read or watch anything connected with the court case, during the trial.

It is thought Guzman will be kept in one of the US’s infamous “supermax” prisons, which have some of the highest security levels in the world, after he managed to escape another prison in Mexico in 2015.