Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

EL Chapo trial jury selection begins in Brooklyn

EL Chapo trial jury selection begins in Brooklyn

The marathon Brooklyn federal trial, which is expected to last more than four months, will see Guzman face the U.S. justice system after twice escaping prison in Mexico, once hidden in a laundry cart and then slipping down a tunnel that reached his prison shower. Citizens who are in consideration to be a part of the jury for the trial reportedly filled out an extensive questionnaire to see if anyone knows of the alleged drug lord.

The security around the jury is nearly as tight as it is for El Chapo, who is arguably one of America's most notorious prisoners now in the justice system.

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.

American prosecutors have accused Joaquin Guzman of overseeing a multibillion-dollar drug operation and a ruthless campaign of murders and kidnappings of his rivals.

For pre-trial hearings, authorities opted to transport him to and from jail by shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge to make way for a police motorcade that included a SWAT team and an ambulance, all tracked by helicopters.

But that could create a logistical nightmare during the trial, and there is speculation that "El Chapo" is being held in a cell deep within the Brooklyn courthouse.

Opening statements are expected to begin November 13.

Prosecutors say that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $14 billion.

He was captured in a deadly shootout in Los Mochis, a coastal city in Sinaloa.

That tipped off investigators to his location.

El Chapo - "Shorty", for his 5-foot-6 stature - has been an iconic figure in the drug trade for decades. He was serving a 20-year sentence on drug-trafficking charges in a different prison when he pulled off an intricate escape in 2001. In the U.S., opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.

The judge struck two women after they raised security concerns about presiding over the proceedings, expected to cost millions and turn into the most expensive federal trial in USA history.

Years have been spent piecing together evidence against Guzman, 61, who was extradited from Mexico in 2017 after twice escaping prison - first hidden in a laundry cart, then slipping down a tunnel that reached his prison shower. US Marshals will escort them every day. McCoy reported from NY.

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