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


Traffic in Brooklyn will be more chaotic than usual this week, as court proceedings against notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera begin at a Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday.

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

The former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the United States from Mexico early previous year.

Heavily armed agents were standing guard Monday morning as barricades surrounded the Brooklyn federal courthouse for the start of jury selection.

The marathon Brooklyn federal trial, which will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months, will see Guzman face the U.S. justice system after twice escaping prison in Mexico, once hidden in a laundry cart and then slipping down a tunnel that reached his prison shower.

The now imprisoned brothers paid a steep price for flipping: Prosecutors say in 2009 their father was murdered in Mexico by a cartel hit team.

The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous and will be escorted by U.S. marshals to and from court every day.

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Authorities are boosting security for the trial, including keeping confidential the names of the 12 people who will be picked to serve on the jury and the six alternates. Opening statements are expected on November 13. 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. US Marshals will escort them to and from court every day.

So far only two potential jurors have expressed fear about safety.

One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, 'I feel very bad about drugs'. 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".

Guzman, who allegedly continued to run the world's largest drug-trafficking operation even while behind bars in Mexico, now faces the possibility of life imprisonment in the United States.

Prosecutors say that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $14 billion.

El Chapo was captured by the Mexican Army in December 2016.

Security for the trial is expected to be high, and not just for Guzman who escaped twice from Mexican prisons.