Jury selection begins for El Chapo’s trial

Jury selection begins for El Chapo’s trial

That's when he wasn't busy escaping from jail - twice.

Jury selection began Monday for the USA trial of Joaquin "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.

Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week of jury selection, held behind closed doors under security reserved for the most unsafe defendants.

Opening statements are tentatively scheduled for November 13.

Guzman, 61, formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The defence says the witnesses are the true bad guys whose testimony shouldn't be trusted. They agreed to co-operate and record phone conversations with Guzman about the size of shipments smuggled on boats and airplanes.

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During the trial there will be increased security, including patrols by heavily armed federal agents. Anyone trying to attend the hearings was put through airport-style metal detectors at the courthouse entrance and at the door of the courtroom itself. Prosecutors have also sought to hide the identity of cooperating witnesses out of concerns the cartel could seek retribution, while a judge is keeping the jury anonymous to protect them from intimidation.

A moment of levity came when one potential juror was asked about a deli near his workplace stocking a sandwich called "El Chapo". "I think this is indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel has probably infiltrated the drug industry in our country", said PNP spokesman Senior Supt. 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".

Federal authorities have imposed high security to prevent Guzman from slipping away yet again. The second time was via a mile-long (1.6 kilometre-long) tunnel dug to the shower in his cell. Each time he's appeared in Brooklyn federal court, he's been escorted by a police motorcade from Manhattan, shutting down part of the Brooklyn Bridge.

New York―Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman goes on trial in New York on Monday, accused of running the world's biggest drug cartel and spending a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tons of cocaine into the United States. He said there would be adjustments, but didn't elaborate. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

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