Jury selection begins for El Chapo's trial

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

Trial of drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to begin in US with anonymous jury and high security

The trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, which is expected to last four months, began on Monday with the selection of jurors in a federal court in Brooklyn.

Guzman is pleading not guilty but the government has presented a wealth of evidence that includes more than 300,000 pages and at least 117,000 audio recordings.

Of about 100 potential jurors, 45 were interviewed by Judge Brian Cogan on Monday, of which 17 were dismissed and no one yet impanelled.

Meanwhile, the diminutive Guzman, 61, appeared in Brooklyn federal court for the start of jury selection wearing a dark-blue suit and a white dress shirt with a spread collar that was unbuttoned at the top. The charges he now faces can earn him a lifelong prison sentence.

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

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Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017 on an indictment that detailed his alleged reign over a merciless trafficking organization controlled through murder and torture. 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 USA justice system. Experts say the government has a near water-tight case likely to send Guzman, 61, to a maximum security U.S. prison for the rest of his life. "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. The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.

USA district court judge Brian Cogan will preside over the process behind closed doors.

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

There's now speculation that a special cell for Guzman has been set up in the bowels of the courthouse where he will spend the night after his days in court. The only visitors he is allowed are his three lawyers and twin, seven-year-old daughters, from whom he is separated by a thick glass screen. He was first apprehended by Mexican authorities in 2016. He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.

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 and put him on a plane.

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