Exclusive: Trump Camp Mulls Using Seized Cartel Assets to Pay for Wall
Joint effort eyed to combat flow of drugs, guns and people would be a 'win-win' for both Mexico and U.S.
To fund construction of a new U.S. border wall, Donald Trump and senior advisers are considering various ideas, including the use of assets seized from drug cartels and others in the illicit drug trade.
As the debate over who will pay for the wall dominates the discussion on cable news, sources involved in the pre-planning of the GOP nominee’s Mexico trip told LifeZette the Trump camp is looking for innovative ways to pay for the construction of the border wall — ways that both countries can support. Sensitivities in Mexico regarding Trump’s visit, and specifically paying for the border wall, are running high.
“For decades, the illicit drug and arms trade has endangered and destroyed the lives of countless Mexicans and Americans.”
A senior Trump policy adviser stressed the proposal was just one of several funding options being discussed and said the idea was not raised during Trump’s meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Advocates of the “make the cartels pay” plan believe it has the added benefit of punishing the “worst of the worst who bring violence to our streets and prey on innocent Mexicans and Americans,” while giving political cover to both leaders to accomplish their objectives. Sources close to both the Mexican government and the Trump campaign have confirmed that this proposal exists, but wish to remain anonymous given the preliminary nature of the discussions.
A graceful, mutually acceptable solution to the contentious issue of funding a border wall is possible — contrary to what various media outlets are reporting, another source insists.
The plan could involve the creation of a “joint border security fund,” where assets seized by law enforcement in both nations are deposited, then deployed for construction and maintenance of the border structure to the benefit of both Mexico and the United States.
That solution could go a long way toward paying for Trump’s wall within the first term of his presidency.
According to the Justice Department’s annual audit of its existing seized assets forfeiture fund for fiscal year 2015, that fund totaled more than $8.7 billion. That figure does not include any assets seized from the cartels by the Mexican government.
A detailed analysis of the cost of constructing the wall conducted by the Bernstein Group estimated the project would cost in the range of $15 billion to $25 billion, but Trump contends he could get the construction done for closer to $8 to $10 billion.
The plan would uniquely incentivize both nations to ramp up efforts to degrade and destroy the illegal drug trafficking market.
A 2012 estimate compiled by the RAND Corporation at the request of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, found that Americans, on average, spend $100 billion annually on the four most widely trafficked illegal drugs: crack/cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine (meth).
Much of that money crosses the border into Mexico, fueling the strength and violent potential of the cartels.
A 2013 study published by the University of Pittsburg estimated the annual profits hauled in by the cartels in Mexico total $25 to $30 billion dollars.
A combined, cooperative effort to boost border enforcement could bring significant economic, national security, and health and safety benefits to millions of citizens in both nations.
"For decades, the illicit drug and arms trade has endangered and destroyed the lives of countless Mexicans and Americans," noted one individual who has advised Trump on immigration. "It would be sweet justice to use their illegal profits and property for something good."
Peña Nieto clearly sees the tremendous potential of securing the border.
"We need to have an overall focus on the border that deals with undocumented immigrants, the flow of drugs, weapons, and cash all at the same time," Peña Nieto said at the press conference following the meeting with Trump.
Trump shared the sentiment.
Trump said the two countries had a "shared objective of safety and prosperity" in stopping the "flow of drugs and illegal weapons," at the Wednesday press conference.