EL Chapo trial jury selection begins in Brooklyn

Adjust Comment Print

The trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, which is expected to last four months, began on Monday with the selection of jurors in a federal court in Brooklyn.

USA prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman directed the global trafficking of multi-ton shipments of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

Guzman escaped prison twice in Mexico, once in a laundry basket in 2001 after running the cartel from a cell for seven years.

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

And for further protection- the jurors names will be withheld from the public.

El Chapo pleaded not guilty to all the crimes against him - worldwide drug trafficking, gun charges, money laundering, and more.

The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous and once selected, will be partially sequestered.

A look at those concerns for a trial that is starting Monday with jury selection. Opening statements are expected on November 13.

One of Mexico's most notorious drug lords will go on trial in the USA later on Monday. US Marshals will escort them to and from court every day.

One potential juror was excused after she indicated the case made her feel unsafe. Both were dismissed. One said she "read (Guzman's) family will come after jurors and their families" and the other said she was concerned about safety "in general". "I think this is indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel has probably infiltrated the drug industry in our country", said PNP spokesman Senior Supt.

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.

Guzman formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, which became one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

It is alleged that he spent a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States.

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

It is alleged that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled at least 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the U.S., as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $14bn (£11bn).

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.