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

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

Jury selection began Monday for the US trial of Joaquin Guzman "El Chapo" Guzman with potential jurors, including a self-described professional Michael Jackson impersonator, quizzed about how much they knew about Guzman's reputation as a ruthless drug lord in Mexico.

Guzman was extradited to the United States from Mexico on January 19, 2017, after escaping twice from Mexican prisons before being captured again. The courthouse is also being guarded with heavily armed officers and bomb-sniffing dogs.

Cogan last week barred members of the public from attending the trial sessions when potential jurors are asked about their knowledge of the case, any hesitation about serving, and whether they can render a fair and impartial verdict.

Guzman faces 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges.

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The defendant accused of running the massive Sinaloa drug cartel, observed the first day of jury selection dressed in a navy suit, white shirt with a wide disco-style collar, flashing a smile but otherwise impervious.

The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous and will be escorted by United States marshals to and from court every day.

Jury selection will be conducted in security conditions reserved only for the most unsafe defendants.

Opening statements are expected to begin November 13. US Marshals will escort them every day. The mammoth trial in a Brooklyn federal court, which will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months, will see Chapo, one of the world's most notorious criminals, face the United States justice system. Both were dismissed. One said she "read (Guzman's) family will come after jurors and their families" and the other said she was concerned about safety "in general".

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No one's hiding the ominous nature of the case from potential jurors. As a reason, the judge cited prosecutors" contention that Guzman's cartel "employs "sicarios, ' or hit men, who carried out hundreds of acts of violence, including murders, assaults and kidnappings".

El Chapo made world headlines in July 2015 when he slipped out of his cell at the maximum security Altiplano federal prison via a mile-long underground tunnel.

The accused killer drug boss did not make eye contact with the prospective jurors, even though they were seated no more than 10 feet away from the leader of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel during questioning. Prosecutors say the Sinaloa Cartel, named for Guzman's home state, smuggled more than 200 tons of cocaine into the United States.

After Guzman was brought to NY, authorities here decided he should be housed in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of a federal jail in Manhattan that has held notorious terrorists and mobsters.

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