Government Shutdown Will Leave US Marshals Guarding ‘El Chapo’ Unpaid If It Persists

The marshals are among the legion of federal workers who'll be without a paycheck if the shutdown continues.

Two US marshals walk in Newark, New Jersey.
Mark Makela / Getty Images

The marshals are among the legion of federal workers who'll be without a paycheck if the shutdown continues.

Having a dangerous job can be made worse if you might not get paid for it.

The U.S. marshals responsible for guarding one of the most dangerous drug lords in the world, Joaquín Guzmán, or El Chapo as he is more commonly called, may not get paid if the marathon partial government shutdown continues into Friday, reports New York Daily News. The partial shutdown, which forces 25 percent of the federal workforce to work without getting paid, has no end in sight, with Donald Trump and the Democrats failing to reach an agreement over the funding of a border wall with Mexico.

Trump delivered a first televised prime-time address on Tuesday night from the Oval Office, in which he decried the “growing humanitarian and security crisis” of illegal immigration through the southern border. Warning that “more Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War,” Trump seemed to blame the opioid crisis on America’s inability to deal with their southern neighbors, according to Fox News.

Whether or not that argument is correct may be up for debate, but there is no doubt that the U.S. federal workforce is suffering because of the shutdown. Among them, the marshals — tasked with guarding one of the most well-known criminals in the world when El Chapo makes his way from a jail in Manhattan to trial in Brooklyn — are likely to risk their lives without the certainty of being compensated for their efforts.

So far, partly thanks to the fees the federal court collects, coupled with other sources of funding, nonessential workers at 94 federal district courts and at higher courts across the country have been paid but that money runs dry on Friday — the day when U.S. marshals are expected to receive their first biweekly paycheck of the year. It is highly likely at this point that the nonessential workforce at the courts will be forced to stay at home as “skeleton crews” show up.

The U.S. marshals responsible for guarding El Chapo have had a heavy presence in the Brooklyn courtroom where the trial continues. They also guard the drug lord himself, who is infamous for twice escaping high-security prisons in Mexico. In 2015, he escaped a prison through a mile-long tunnel that was apparently engineered by foreign technicians, as reported by the New York Times. It just goes to show the sheer risk marshals protecting El Chapo are subject to, in addition to the fact that they are also responsible for the security and transportation of the trial’s 12 anonymous jurors and four alternates.