'El Chapo' Trial Set to Begin in NY

'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

- Jury selection began Monday for the USA trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman with potential jurors, including a self-described professional Michael Jackson impersonator, quizzed about how much they knew about Guzman's reputation as a ruthless drug lord in Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, prosecutors and defense lawyers on Monday morning questioned 20 potential jurors, and have so far ruled out five. The charges carry a mandatory life prison term.

Guzman sat at the defense 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 a year ago. He was known internationally as the head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.

"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.

He's been held in solitary confinement in a high-security federal cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center since January 2017, when Mexico agreed to allow his extradition to the United States for trial.

Image: The shower where El Chapo escaped through a tunnel in 2015.

The judge has ordered the jury to remain anonymous and partially sequestered.

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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. US Marshals will escort them to and from the federal court every day.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin on November 13.

His beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was barred from the selection process as are all members of the public to protect jurors from any threat.

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".

The mammoth trial in Brooklyn, which will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months, will see one of the world's most notorious criminals face the USA justice system.

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

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