Jury selection begins for El Chapo's U.S. trial

07 November, 2018, 15:34 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • 'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

The trial of notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman begins in a NY court on Monday with the selection of 12 anonymous jurors.

New York―Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman goes on trial in New York on Monday, accused of running the world's biggest drug cartel and spending a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tons of cocaine into the United States.

The former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the United States from Mexico early past year.

At pretrial hearings leading to the trial, heavily armed federal officers and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled outside.

Most of the jurors questioned at the outset said Guzman's name "sounded familiar" to them. The charges he now faces can earn him a lifelong prison sentence.

The now imprisoned brothers paid a steep price for flipping: Prosecutors say in 2009 their father was murdered in Mexico by a cartel hit team.

Jury selection will take place amid tight security conditions reserved only for the most unsafe defendants. Opening statements are likely November 13. The mammoth trial in a Brooklyn federal court, which will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months, will see Chapo, one of the world's most notorious criminals, face the U.S. justice system. US Marshals will escort them every day.

More news: USA criticizes Turkey strikes on Kurd militia in Syria

So far only two potential jurors have expressed fear about safety.

One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, "I feel very bad about drugs".

Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017 on an indictment that detailed his alleged reign over a merciless trafficking organization controlled through murder and torture.

Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug-trafficking operation in North America, including money laundering, kidnapping and murder in cities throughout the United States, including Chicago, Miami and NY. The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.

USA prosecutors contend from 1989 to 2014, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in US$14 billion (S$19 billion).

"I don't know why it's called the 'El Chapo, '" he said.

There's now speculation that a special cell for Guzman has been set up in the bowels of the courthouse where he will spend the night after his days in court. He twice escaped from maximum security prisons in Mexico, and authorities have sought to protect trial witnesses from possible cartel retribution.

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