Mexican to seek return of “Chapo” Guzman’s drug money

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president said Thursday he will use legal channels to try to get the fortune of convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman returned to Mexico.

“I think that everything that is confiscated and has to do with Mexico must be returned to Mexico,” López Obrador said at his daily news conference. “I think the U.S. government is going to agree to turn over what belongs to Mexico.”

“We are not going to stop pursuing these matters through legal channels.”

U.S. officials have estimated Guzman’s fortune at $14 billion and a judge ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion as part of his U.S. life sentence announced Wednesday.

The issue is complicated because that is supposedly money his drug-trafficking organization made by distributing drugs in the United States.

In the past, U.S. officials haven’t said how they intend to get their hands on Guzman’s money.

López Obrador said Mexico has erred in the past by allowing the U.S. to seize money in corruption and criminal cases against Mexican suspects, and pledged that won’t happen again.

He also expressed a kind of general regret about Guzman’s sentence of life in prison for drug trafficking, which he is likely to serve in relative isolation at a super-secure U.S. prison.

“I really regret these cases, I don’t want to see anybody in jail, anybody in a hospital. Nobody should suffer,” López Obrador said.

“It is also a thankless life to have a family and not be able to see them, " he said, adding “When all these things happen and result in a sentence like this, to be in prison for life, in a hostile, hard, inhuman prison, well, that touches you.”

But he added “I also have in my thoughts many of the victims. It is very hard.”