Jury selection begins for El Chapo's U.S. trial

'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

Accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's trial is scheduled to begin today with jury selection in a United States federal court in Brooklyn. The names of the jurors will not be revealed and each of them will be assigned a U.S. Marshal to escort them to and from the courthouse.

Potential jurors were quizzed Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, about their attitudes on drug trafficking and how much attention they've paid to news reports about Guzman.

Unlike most Americans who get called for jury duty, those interviewed Monday seemed genuinely eager to serve. The charges carry a mandatory life prison term.

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

The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.

They were also questioned in Brooklyn's federal court about their views on the legalization of marijuana, their fluency in Spanish and their feelings toward both law enforcement and co-operating witnesses.

USA prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel since 2003, Guzman directed the movement of multi-ton shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States.

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.

"I feel very badly about drugs", she said, when Cogan asked about the answer.

Joaquin Guzman is accused of killing thousands of people while running the Sinaloa drug cartel and shipping tons of cocaine into the United States.

"'El Chapo Guzman is the world's #1 drug criminal", DEA spokesperson Rusty Payne told Forbes after his apprehension in 2014.

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

USA prosecutors contend that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled at least 340,892 pounds (154,626 kg) of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $14 billion. According to court papers, some are being held in special jail units for their protection, while others are in witness protection programs. The only visitors he is allowed are his three lawyers and twin, seven-year-old daughters, from whom he is separated by a thick glass screen.

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

He was arrested again by Mexican marines in February 2014 but escaped 14 months later before being re-captured in January 2016.

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