'El Chapo' Trial Set to Begin in NY

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

"It's probably set up to be the most expensive trial in the history of the USA", said Rob Heroy, a North Carolina lawyer who has defended other Mexican drug barons. Guzman sat at the defence table listening through an interpreter and wearing street clothes - a dark suit and a white shirt with an open collar - instead of a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradited to the United States early previous year.

Previously, a federal judge said in light of the history of violence surrounding the cartel which El Chapo allegedly ran and the high-profile nature of the case, he has granted jurors anonymity in the trial.

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. He has been under tight security as he awaits trial. The charges he now faces can earn him a lifelong prison sentence.

Guzman, 61, formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which became one of the most powerful drug trafficking organisations in the world. "Probably not", said Mr Rob Heroy, a North Carolina lawyer who has defended other Mexican drug barons.

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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.

It is alleged that he spent a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States.

Identities of the 12 selected jurors and six alternates will remain anonymous and they will be escorted to and from the courthouse every day by armed USA marshals.

Guzman is charged with 17 counts of murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering.

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

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 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). Some are expected to testify under aliases. Some have even been hiding in special jail units and others in witness protection programs, WNBC-TV reported. Mexican authorities then recaptured the fugitive in January 2016.

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