Jury Selection Begins for ‘El Chapo’ Trial; Safety Fears Muted

Jury Selection Begins for ‘El Chapo’ Trial; Safety Fears Muted

Jury Selection Begins for ‘El Chapo’ Trial; Safety Fears Muted

Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week of jury selection, held behind closed doors under security reserved for the most unsafe defendants. If convicted, Guzman faces life in prison. Citizens who are in consideration to be a part of the jury for the trial reportedly filled out an extensive questionnaire to see if anyone knows of the alleged drug lord.

Although the charges in the case all relate to drug trafficking, prosecutors are also expected to introduce evidence that Guzman was involved in multiple murder plots in the course of his career, including in wars with rival cartels.

According to the indictment, the Sinaloa cartel, which Guzman is accused of leading from 1989 to 2014, became "the largest drug trafficking organisation in the world".

USA prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman directed the global trafficking of multi-ton shipments of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. "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.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin on November 13.

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.

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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). Gómez said a journey to the rugged Sierra Madre by American actor Sean Penn put investigators on Guzman's doorstep. He was serving a 20-year sentence on drug-trafficking charges in a different prison when he pulled off an intricate escape in 2001. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiraled into an epidemic.

Mr Heroy estimates the trial will cost USA taxpayers "more than US$50 million", a price tag that includes protection programmes for at least some of the hundreds of witnesses expected to testify.

Guzman, 61, formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

The former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the United States from Mexico early past year.

After two massive prison breaks by El Chapo in Mexico, authorities in the U.S. are taking every precaution to keep their notorious prisoner behind bars.

Bacon reported from Virginia.

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