'El Chapo' Trial Set to Begin in NY

Pauline Gross
November 6, 2018

The trial of notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman begins in a NY court on Monday with the selection of 12 anonymous jurors.

Lawyers for Guzman said in a motion last week that they needed more time to review more than 14,000 pages documents, largely related to key witnesses expected to testify against their client, that prosecutors turned over.

US District Judge Brian Cogan, prosecutors and defence lawyers on Monday questioned 45 potential jurors, rejecting 17. The charges carry a mandatory life prison term.

Joaquin Guzman, also known as "El Chapo", has been held in solitary confinement in NY for the last two years.

He was recruited by Guadalajara cartel boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as "The Godfather" of Mexico's modern drug cartels.

USA prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman directed the movement of multi-ton shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States. The 12 jurors and six alternate jurors chosen will be escorted to and from the courthouse by armed USA marshals. US Marshals will escort them to and from court every day.

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Pretrial hearings held in early October forced law enforcement officials to close the Brooklyn Bridge up to twice a day as they transported Guzman to and from the courthouse located near the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and his high-security residence.

Opening statements are expected to begin November 13. Gómez said a journey to the rugged Sierra Madre by American actor Sean Penn put investigators on Guzman's doorstep.

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 United States justice system. For the most part, he did not make eye contact with potential jurors, who were brought within about 10 feet (three meters) from him for individual questioning.

And as for the Michael Jackson impersonator, prosecutors expressed some concern his identity couldn't be kept secret because there are so few people in his profession.

"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.

The jury pool member appeared to chuckle at the remark.

Other reports by GizPress

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