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07 November 2018, 03:30 | Darnell Patrick
Trial of drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to begin in US with anonymous jury and high security
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman goes on trial in NY today, accused of running the world's biggest drug cartel and spending a quarter of a century smuggling cocaine into the US.
United States 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. Those men were tried on home turf, while Guzman was extradited from Mexico in 2017.
During the trial there will be increased security, including patrols by heavily armed federal agents.
Cogan last week barred members of the public from attending the trial sessions when potential jurors are asked about their knowledge of the case, any hesitation about serving, and whether they can render a fair and impartial verdict.
Legal experts say the case against Guzman is water-tight and could see him being sent to a maximum security prison for the rest of his life.
Authorities say he maintained his grip on the Sinaloa Cartel. The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous.
Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week set aside for jury selection, held behind closed doors with only a select "pool" of reporters admitted under the tightest security reserved for the most unsafe defendants.
Opening statements are tentatively scheduled for November 13.
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After two massive prison breaks by El Chapo in Mexico, authorities in the USA are taking every precaution to keep their notorious prisoner behind bars. 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 USA justice system.
So far only two potential jurors have expressed fear about safety.
El Chapo was captured by the Mexican Army in December 2016.
"El Chapo" is also charged with using firearms in running a drug trafficking and money laundering operations, while making $14 billion in cash from the sale of narcotics throughout the United States and Canada. In the USA, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.
Arrested for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, Guzman spent more than seven years in a Mexican prison before his first escape in 2001.
Guzman, 61, formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which became one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world.
United States prosecutors contend from 1989 to 2014, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 155 tonnes of cocaine into the U.S., as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in US$14 billion (S$19 billion).
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.
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