White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been criticised for suggesting a border wall would have stopped Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman bringing drugs into the US.
Ms Sanders implied the conviction of the Mexican drug lord – found guilty of 10 charges related to narcotics trafficking in a US court on Monday – proved the threat posed by cartels south of the border was “real”.
The senior Trump administration official tweeted: “El Chapo’s reign of terror is over. He’ll spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison. The threat from violent drug cartels is real – we must secure our border.”
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Yet some commentators ridiculed her attempt to connect the court case with the border wall issue, pointing out Guzman constructed underground tunnels and flew drugs into the US – methods a wall would do nothing to stop.
Others on social media noted his arrest was not the result of a hard border, but co-operation between US and Mexican authorities. The cartel leader was arrested in Los Mochis, Sinaloa in 2016, then extradited to stand trial in Brooklyn, New York.
Despite the objections to Ms Sanders’ tweet, Senator Ted Cruz also tried to link Guzman and the border wall agenda.
The Republican lawmaker has drafted a bill entitled “Cruz’s Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act” that would direct money forfeited by convicted drug lords to building “border security assets”.
Mr Cruz tweeted: “I urge my Senate colleagues to take swift action on this crucial legislation.”
Lawmakers tentatively agreed Monday night to a deal that would provide nearly $1.4bn (£1.1bn) for border barriers and keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on 30 September.
The agreement would allow 55 miles of new fencing – constructed using existing designs such as metal slats – but far less than the 215 miles the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
Full details were not expected to be released until Wednesday. But Republican leaders have urged Mr Trump to agree to the deal.
Meanwhile, experts predicted Guzman would be sent to a “supermax” federal prison in Florence, Colorado known as ADX – a facility so bleak and remote that it has been dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies”.
“El Chapo fits the bill perfectly,” said Cameron Lindsay, a retired warden who ran three federal prisons. “I’d be absolutely shocked if he’s not sent to the ADX.”
Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols are among the inmates at the jail.
Additional reporting by agencies
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