Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been in U.S. custody since January, but apparently, there’s issues with him paying his team of lawyers.
Despite making an estimated $14 billion in drug profits, lawyers seeking to represent the 62-year-old are concerned they will not get paid to take on his case.
According to the AP, his lawyers appeared in federal court in Brooklyn on Monday (Aug. 14), U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan told the lawyers that if they took the case, there was no guarantee that prosecutors wouldn’t later seize their fees if they could show that the money came from drug profits.
“I’m not going to pressure the government to create a carve-out for counsel fees,” Cogan said.
After the hearing, Chapo’s lawyers told reporters that they still hope they can find a way to represent him in the case. “We are looking forward, desperately, to come into this case and fight for Joaquin Guzman. … The guy has a constitutional right to the best counsel he can get,” said one of the lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman.
Since the case began, prosecutors argued that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for his defense. However, they said last week in court that the government will not “grant a blanket prospective assurance” that it won’t go after money spent on a private defense.
Lichtman previously successfully defended John “Junior” Gotti, son of the notorious crime family boss, at a 2005 trial. He got an acquittal on a securities fraud count and a mistrial on more serious racketeering counts.