Jury selection begins for El Chapo's trial

08 November, 2018, 04:44 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • 'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

The logistical problem for his keepers: The case is being prosecuted across the East River in federal court in Brooklyn. Guzman sat at the defence table listening through an interpreter and wearing street clothes - a dark suit and a white shirt with an open collar - instead of a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradited to the United States early past year.

Prosecutors describe Guzman as one of the most unsafe and feared drug kingpins, who between 1989 and 2014 ran the world's largest drug trafficking organization.

Guzman, who was captured in 2016 after tunneling his way out of a maximum securiy Mexican jail, was brought to New York City in January 2017 to face murder and drug conspiracy charges.

Jury selection is to continue on Tuesday.

Of about 100 potential jurors, 45 were interviewed by Judge Brian Cogan yesterday, of which 17 were dismissed and no one yet impanelled. The 12 jurors and six alternate jurors chosen will be escorted to and from the courthouse by armed United States marshals.

It is these ordinary men and women who will determine whether Guzman - the diminutive father of two whose nickname means "shorty" - is guilty or not of 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges.

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

During Guzman's reign, the cartel's empire expanded across the globe, stretching from the Americas to Europe and Asia. "[He] has always been considered the #1 supplier of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines into the U.S". Mexican authorities then recaptured the fugitive in January 2016. They agreed to co-operate and record phone conversations with Guzman about the size of shipments smuggled on boats and airplanes.

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Guzman was born in 1957 in the Mexican town Badiraguato - where several drugs lords operated.

After Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989, Guzman's Sinaloa cartel began its meteoric rise.

Guzman pleads not guilty, but the government has presented so much evidence - more than 300,000 pages and at least 117,000 recordings - that the defence complains they haven't had time to review it all. "It's probably set up to be the most expensive trial in the history of the USA", he told AFP.

Some of the informants have already been absorbed into the USA witness protection programme and given new identities and homes around the country.

He has been in solitary confinement in a high-security NY prison since Mexico extradited him to the United States in January 2017.

The only visitors he is allowed are his lawyers and twin, seven-year-old daughters, from whom he is separated by thick glass.

Re-arrested in February 2014, he escaped again 14 months later.

His story has been the subject of numerous documentaries and a Netflix series.

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