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Friday Letters: Seizing drug cartel assets best way to beat them

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman after 2014 arrest. He escaped and was re-arrested in 2016. / Getty Images

The Chicago Sun-Times editorial of April 19 on the federal Asset Forfeiture Program is seriously misguided.  The purpose of the program is to take the profit out of criminal acts.  Having served as administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, I know that the drug cartels are most seriously disrupted when the assets from their criminal enterprises are in jeopardy.

The criminal enterprises can afford to sacrifice couriers, drug shipments, cars, airplanes and boats, but they cannot continue to function effectively if the assets derived from those criminal activities are taken away from them. That is the whole purpose of the Asset Forfeiture Program. Financial gain from illegal activities should not be rewarded. Asset Forfeiture takes the profit out of crime and helps deter criminal acts and can be used to compensate innocent victims and to fund programs for crime prevention and education.

The law is clear — assets derived from, traceable to, or intended to be used for violation of criminal laws should be confiscated. In instances where the evidence does not support a criminal offense, then individuals should not suffer the loss of property that was not derived from criminal activity. That is not the intent of the law. Depriving law enforcement of this powerful tool would be cheered by the drug traffickers and other criminal offenders.

Let’s not allow the criminal organizations to keep their ill-gotten gains, which will only be used to sponsor additional crime.

Peter Bensinger
Former Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Former Executive Director, Chicago Crime Commission
SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.


Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis would be the perfect vice president candidate on the Donald Trump ticket. She offers no realistic or logical solutions, she excels at calling people names and she blames everyone else for all the problems that exist. Trump and Lewis are two peas in a pod!

Joe Revane, Lombard

The Sun-Times Editorial Board endorsed Bruce Rauner for governor and foisted upon the people of Illinois a big fat mess, and now the editorial board is asking CTU President Karen Lewis to apologize?  I’d like to first hear an apology from the Editorial Board for supporting this ideologue governor who has disrupted and harmed thousands of lives and caused our state and its institutions permanent financial damage.

Silvio Anichini, Edgewater

Cut county board pay more

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin has proposed a $10,000 annual pay cut for county commissioners, but that’s not enough. In the past, commissioners received no pay at all, just a cash stipend whenever they attended board meetings, plus perks.  Their pay should be in line with the amount of work they screw up.  A salary of $40,000 to $45,000, instead of the current $85,000, would be appropriate.

Donald J. Lazo, Gage Park