Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

EL Chapo trial jury selection begins in Brooklyn

'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
| 08 November, 2018, 01:05

The trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman begins Monday in NY with jury selection.

USA prosecutors have spent years piecing together a sweeping case against Guzman, which they hope will end with the 61-year-old spending the rest of his life in a maximum-security United States prison.

Heavily armed agents were standing guard Monday morning as barricades surrounded the Brooklyn federal courthouse for the start of jury selection.

Most of the jurors questioned at the outset said Guzman's name "sounded familiar" to them. The charges he now faces can earn him a lifelong prison sentence.

The judge ruled that just five news reporters, a fraction of the swarm of media representatives following the trial, will be allowed in the courtroom during jury selection.

Authorities say he maintained his grip on the Sinaloa Cartel. "This prosecution demonstrates that we will apply all available resources to dismantle the leadership of unsafe drug cartels, wherever they operate, and will not rest until we have done so'". News 12 is told the jurors also being escorted to and from court.

One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, 'I feel very bad about drugs'. Prosecutors have also sought to hide the identity of co-operating witnesses out of concerns the cartel could seek retribution, while a judge is keeping the jury anonymous to protect them from intimidation.


A moment of levity came when one potential juror was asked about a deli near his workplace stocking a sandwich called "El Chapo".

Twelve ordinary men and women 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.

USA authorities have described the group as one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world. The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful. Prosecutors say the Sinaloa Cartel, named for Guzman's home state, smuggled more than 200 tons of cocaine into the United States.

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.

It is alleged that he spent a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter in handcuffs by Mexican navy marines at a navy hanger in Mexico City in 2014.

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