US prosecutors can't find El Chapo's $14 billion fortune

An ABC 7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO, Illinois -- Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has gone missing a few times after escaping from prison.

But now it is the drug lord's money that is apparently missing billions of which was amassed over the last decade, much of it off the backs of Chicago drug customers where El Chapo is said to have controlled 80 percent of the cocaine trade.

Now the Mexican attorney general says authorities haven't even been able to find one dollar of El Chapo's personal fortune.

When El Chapo was arrested after his last escape in Mexico, investigators said that he had paid a small fortune in bribes to politicians, police and prison guards to get him out of the penitentiary, and paid cartel laborers a hefty sum to dig the mile-long tunnel he escaped from on a motorcycle affixed to an underground rail.

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Video released by Mexican officials show Joaquin Guzman as he is processed after his January arrest

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Lawyers for Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman are complaining that his New York City jail conditions are too strict.

U.S. prosecutors in New York where El Chapo was indicted and extradited want the $14 billion they say he cleared in drug profits for his Sinaloa cartel.

But Wednesday, the drug lord known as "Shorty" is now trying to short the government. That is according to Mexico's attorney general Raul Cervantes, who says that "as of today, U.S. authorities have not found not even one dollar of El Chapo's assets."

Cervantes says El Chapo shunned financial institutions, as do all wealthy hoodlums, because they cannot offer proof the funds are legitimate.

The Sinaloa cartel boss is following in the footsteps of organized crime figures who either claim poverty or menial jobs. The late Chicago mob boss Anthony "Joe Batters" Accardo always claimed to be a "beer salesman" in order to justify his meager bank account.

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Federal prosecutors said El Chapo should be made to prove why American taxpayers should pick up the tab for his attorneys.

Guzman right now is being held in solitary confinement, a high-security area of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, which will be discussed Friday at his next court hearing in New York.

During that federal court appearance El Chapo will ask a judge to loosen the conditions of his solitary confinement, a move prosecutors oppose.

The question of finding his money may be more difficult to answer, and in the end not even the most critical part of the drug lord's legacy.

When he was arrested, El Chapo is said to have told investigators that he was responsible for 2,000 or 3,000 deaths during his career. Government officials believe the number of El Chapo murder victims is closer to 34,000.

VIDEO: Watch El Chapo learn he's being extradited to US

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