Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Jury selection begins Monday in El Chapo trial

Jury selection begins Monday in El Chapo trial

In a sign of the level of attention on the case and the notoriety of the defendant, the jury will be kept anonymous.

Authorities say he maintained his grip on the Sinaloa Cartel.

Until he was recaptured in early 2016 - and extradited to the United States in 2017 - he seemed largely untouchable. Guzman sat at the defense table listening through an interpreter and wearing street clothes - a dark suit and a white shirt with an open collar - instead a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradicted to the United States early past year. His co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large, and violent drug trafficking continues unabated in Mexico. US District Court Judge Brian Cogan will preside over the process behind closed doors.

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. with thousands of members".

In his way now is a lineup of government witnesses who survived the wave of violence and are expected to give details about the ruthless way he kept power for 20 years in the cutthroat world of worldwide drug trafficking.

Jurors also will be escorted to and from the courthouse by federal officers and sequestered from the public while inside.

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.

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Guzman pleads not guilty, but the government has presented so much evidence - more than 300,000 pages and at least 117,000 recordings - that the defence complains they haven't had time to review it all. Some are expected to testify under aliases. "It's probably set up to be the most expensive trial in the history of the United States", he told AFP. Prosecutors have so far avoided naming the witnesses, saying that doing so would put them in danger. "The case is going to be based on these informants". 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 only visitors he is allowed are his lawyers and twin, seven-year-old daughters, from whom he is separated by thick glass. The judge has banned his 29-year-old beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, from visiting.

The first day of jury selection has wrapped up in the NY trial of the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo.

Re-arrested in February 2014, he escaped again 14 months later.

Mexican authorities captured Guzman and an associate in January 2016 fleeing a raid on a house where he had been staying in northwest Mexico.

This time, Mexico made a decision to wash their hands of him and put him on a plane.

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