Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Jury Selection to Begin in Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Trial

'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US Trial of drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to begin in US with anonymous jury and high security
Charlie Simmons | 08 November, 2018, 01:06

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman goes on trial in NY on Monday, accused of running the world's biggest drug cartel and spending a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tons of cocaine into the United States.

Guzman managed to escape from prison in Mexico twice before being extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017.

US District Judge Brian Cogan, prosecutors and defence lawyers on Monday morning questioned 20 potential jurors, and have so far ruled out five.

A look at those concerns for a trial that is starting Monday with jury selection. Given Guzman's current residence at a high-security prison in Manhattan, Federal agents are scrambling to find ways to transport him to the NYC borough without throwing a wrench in the city's traffic flow.

The Sinaloa cartel Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful. US Marshals will escort them to and from court every day.

Prosecutors say Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera led the Sinaloa Cartel, an alleged criminal enterprise that imported and distributed massive amounts of drugs into the United States, between January 1989 and December 2014.

The judge also agreed with prosecutors that the jury for the case should be kept anonymous, a measure typical in terrorism or mob cases where jury intimidation is a concern.

One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, 'I feel very bad about drugs'.

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El Chapo made world headlines in July 2015 when he slipped out of his cell at the maximum security Altiplano federal prison via a mile-long underground tunnel.

According to the indictment, the Sinaloa cartel, which Guzman is accused of leading from 1989 to 2014, became "the largest drug trafficking organisation in the world". Some of them are being held in special jail units, while others are in witness protection programs. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

Last year, there was a record 29,000 murders in Mexico.

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

In a secret meeting with actor Sean Penn which the Hollywood star wrote about in Rolling Stone magazine in 2016, Guzman boasted: "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world".

"El Chapo" has twice escaped from Mexican prisons and is considered an extreme flight risk.

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

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