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

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

Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's trial started on Monday with the selection of jurors in Brooklyn federal court.

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

He twice escaped from maximum security prisons in Mexico, and authorities have sought to protect trial witnesses from possible cartel retribution.

The federal judge said his confinement will likely change for the trial which is expected to last about four months, so as not to disrupt throngs of New Yorkers who use the Brooklyn Bridge daily.

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. The charges carry a mandatory life prison term.

Joaquin Guzman is accused of killing thousands of people while running the Sinaloa drug cartel and shipping tons of cocaine into the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says he was able to remain a force by communicating with his son and other cartel leaders through lawyers and others who visited him at the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City.

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As CBS2's Janelle Burrell reported Monday, security will be tight for both Guzman and the potential jurors.

Authorities say he maintained his grip on the Sinaloa Cartel. News 12 is told the jurors also being escorted to and from court. In the USA, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

USA prosecutors contend from 1989 to 2014, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in US$14 billion (S$19 billion). Heroy estimates the trial will cost USA taxpayer "more than $50 million", a price tag that includes protection programs for at least some of the several hundred witnesses expected to testify.

Mexico extradited Guzman to the United States in 2017, and ever since he has been held in solitary confinement at a NY federal prison.

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".

At least some of the several hundred witnesses expected to testify are in witness protection programs or are already in jail, housed in special wings to protect them from reprisals.

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