Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Security tight as 'El Chapo' Guzman trial set to open in Brooklyn

Security tight as 'El Chapo' Guzman trial set to open in Brooklyn

Guzman was extradited to the United States from Mexico on January 19, 2017, after escaping twice from Mexican prisons before being captured again.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is at the center of a high-profile trial. There are extra precautions being taken for witnesses and jurors to ensure their safety, as well.

The trial is expected to last about four months.

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.

Although the charges in the case all relate to drug trafficking, prosecutors are also expected to introduce evidence that Guzman was involved in multiple murder plots in the course of his career, including in wars with rival cartels.

United States prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman directed the worldwide trafficking of multi-ton shipments of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

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According to the indictment, the Sinaloa cartel, which Guzman is accused of leading from 1989 to 2014, became "the largest drug trafficking organization in the world ... with thousands of members".

Of about 100 potential jurors, 45 were interviewed by Judge Brian Cogan yesterday, of which 17 were dismissed and no one yet impanelled. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says he was able to remain a force by communicating with his son and other cartel leaders through lawyers and others who visited him at the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City. The 12 jurors and six alternate jurors chosen will be escorted to and from the courthouse by armed U.S. marshals. News 12 is told the jurors also being escorted to and from court.

It is these ordinary men and women who will determine whether Guzman - the diminutive father of two whose nickname means "shorty" - is guilty or not of 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

Prosecutors say the USA government is seeking a $14 billion forfeiture order as part of the case.

The Sinaloa cartel Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful. Some have even been hiding in special jail units and others in witness protection programs, WNBC-TV reported.

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

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