El Chapo's United States drugs trial kicks off under tight security

Frederick Owens
November 7, 2018

Guzman, who was captured in 2016 after tunneling his way out of a maximum securiy Mexican jail, was brought to New York City in January 2017 to face murder and drug conspiracy charges.

Mexican druglord "El Chapo" Guzman is on the run from police after making a daring escape from Mexico's most secure prison. Guzman sat at the defense table listening through an interpreter and wearing street clothes - a dark suit and a white shirt with an open collar - instead a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradicted to the United States early past year.

"I don't know why it's called the 'El Chapo, '" he said. "[He] has always been considered the #1 supplier of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines into the U.S". In 2016, an average of 174 Americans died every day from drug overdoses.

The mammoth trial in a Brooklyn federal court starts on Monday, will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months.

"El Chapo" is also charged with using firearms in running a drug trafficking and money laundering operations, while making $14 billion in cash from the sale of narcotics throughout the United States and Canada.

Judge Brian Cogan has taken the extraordinary step of holding the trial behind closed doors.

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The accused killer drug boss did not make eye contact with the prospective jurors, even though they were seated no more than 10 feet away from the leader of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel during questioning.

USA prosecutors contend from 1989 to 2014, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in US$14 billion (S$19 billion). Heroy estimates the trial will cost U.S. taxpayer "more than $50 million", a price tag that includes protection programs for at least some of the several hundred witnesses expected to testify. "The case is going to be based on these informants".

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.

Last year, there was a record 29,000 murders in Mexico. Instead, she has attended nearly all his pretrial hearings, waving and blowing him kisses from the gallery.

He conducted a secret interview with Sean Penn, who, according to the actor, was unaware he was being surveilled by the Mexican government, and reportedly ended up being the beacon for authorities to ultimately catch up with Guzman. Re-arrested by Mexican marines in February 2014, he escaped again 14 months later.

This time, Mexico made a decision to wash their hands of him and put him on a plane.

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