Trial For Accused Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Begins In Brooklyn

Cheryl Sanders
November 6, 2018

Jury selection in the trial for the accused Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" begins Monday in Brooklyn.

Pretrial hearings held in early October forced law enforcement officials to close the Brooklyn Bridge up to twice a day as they transported Guzman to and from the courthouse located near the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and his high-security residence.

Guzman's defense attorneys have argued the level of security creates a public spectacle that's prejudicial to jurors.

Drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is made to face the media in Mexico City as he is escorted by Mexican soldiers following his recapture in 2016.

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

United States prosecutors have spent years piecing together a sweeping case against Guzman, which they hope will end with the 61-year-old spending the rest of his life in a maximum-security U.S. prison.

The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous and will be escorted by USA marshals to and from court every day.

The 61-year-old drug lord is facing 11 felony charges in relation to drug trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering, and weapons charges, which he is accused to engaging with during his time as the leader of one of the world's most infamous drug trafficking organizations. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiraled into an epidemic.

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

The mammoth trial in a Brooklyn federal court starts on Monday, will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months. Even Guzman's lawyers are in the dark as to all the former associates, hired hands or rivals who have turned informants.

He conducted a secret interview with Sean Penn, who, according to the actor, was unaware he was being surveilled by the Mexican government, and reportedly ended up being the beacon for authorities to ultimately catch up with Guzman.

The judge has banned his 29-year-old beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, from visiting.

A query acquired by CNN reads "The case for which you are summoned involves the defendant JOAQUIN ARCHIVALDO GUZMAN LOERA, also known as 'El Chapo.' Have you read, seen or heard anything about the defendant, the case, or people involved?" He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.

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