Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Capo no more, Sinaloa drug lord faces trial in NY

Capo no more, Sinaloa drug lord faces trial in NY

Amid heavy security, jury selection began Monday in Brooklyn federal court for the criminal enterprise and conspiracy trial against the legendary accused drug lord whose electrifying escapes from Mexican prisons captured headlines worldwide.

Lawyers for Guzman said in a motion last week that they needed more time to review more than 14,000 pages documents, largely related to key witnesses expected to testify against their client, that prosecutors turned over.

Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week set aside for jury selection, held behind closed doors with only a select "pool" of reporters admitted under the tightest security reserved for the most unsafe defendants. He faces life in prison if convicted in this trial, which is set for opening statements to begin November 13. 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 of a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradited to the United States early previous year. He founded the Sinaloa Cartel in 1980.

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

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The judge struck two women after they raised security concerns about presiding over the proceedings, expected to cost millions and turn into the most expensive federal trial in United States history.

Mexican druglord "El Chapo" Guzman is on the run from police after making a daring escape from Mexico's most secure prison. His co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large, and violent drug trafficking continues unabated in Mexico. According to court papers, some are being held in special jail units for their protection, while others are in witness protection programs. "I don't know why it's called the El Chapo, but it's delicious", he added to laughter from Guzman's lawyer and an unimpressed defendant. 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".

He has been in solitary confinement in a high-security NY prison since Mexico extradited him to the United States in January 2017.

Judge Brian Cogan has taken the extraordinary step of holding the trial behind closed doors. He was first apprehended by Mexican authorities in 2016. Mexican authorities then recaptured the fugitive in January 2016. He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.

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