Jury selection begins in USA trial of Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo'

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

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

The mythical criminal pedigree of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who was extradited in 2017 to face US drug conspiracy charges, has sparked security concerns at his upcoming New York City trial that at times have drawn as much attention as the case's sensational allegations.

The trial in Brooklyn under tight security brings 17 criminal charges against the 61-year-old former head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, including drug trafficking, money laundering and running a criminal organization. Natasha Hussain has the details.

During his previous court appearances, Guzman received a police escort as he was transported from Manhattan to the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse with the Brooklyn Bridge shut down and Tillary Street blocked off with armed guards present the entire time.

The jurors were called into the courtroom wearing stickers identifying them by number, their names withheld to protect their safety. Opening statements are likely November 13.

Alleged Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman somehow always managed to get away.

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USA 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.

He has been in solitary confinement in a high-security NY prison since Mexico extradited him to the United States in January 2017. The dramatic escape triggered a worldwide manhunt that ended six months later in a deadly shootout in Los Mochis, a coastal city in Sinaloa.

Legal experts say prosecutors have a rock-hard case against Guzman.

Arely Gómez González, Mexico's attorney general at the time, said the search drew few valuable clues until Guzman reached out to actors and producers and began planning a movie about his life.

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Authorities say he maintained his grip on the Sinaloa Cartel. After a 2001 escape, he kept the machine moving while on the run, hiding for 13 years in plain sight.

Guzman managed to escape from prison in Mexico twice before being extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017.

A Mexican official told Reuters at the time that the move was a show of goodwill to incoming US President Donald Trump, who was inaugurated the next day, though Alberto Elias Beltran, Mexico's assistant attorney general for worldwide affairs, denied any connection.

Until he was recaptured in early 2016 - and extradited to the United States in 2017 - he seemed largely untouchable.

Bacon reported from Virginia.

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