Eduardo Verdugo / AP
Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the man who heads the largest drug smuggling organization in the world, is accused of seeing his day in front of a US court. The selection of the jury began on Monday in Brooklyn, New York.
In the US, the infamous drug killer, who has already been convicted of crimes in Mexico, is accused of running a criminal enterprise, distributing cocaine and washing the proceeds, along with other alleged offenses. The 17-year indictment, which spans over decades, claims that Guzmán's cartel abducted tons of drugs from South America to the US and then illegally transferred billions in profits to Mexico.
The leaders of Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel "employed" Sarios "or" Hitmen "who carried out hundreds of acts of violence, including murders, assaults, kidnappings, assassinations and torture," the indictment said. Guzmán did not plead guilty in 2017 after being handed over from Mexico.
The identities of the selected jurors are anonymous and partially isolated. The judge made that decision earlier this year, as Vanessa Romo of NPR reported, "to safeguard the integrity of the process and alleviate any fear of harassment or intimidation in the minds of the jury."
According to Guzmán's lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman, his client is ready to start the process, according to Carrie Kahn of NPR. "The co-conspirators of September 11 were in better conditions than Mr. Guzmán, so he is happy to leave the 23-hour barrier with very little human contact," Lichtman said.
Before his extradition, Guzman fled the prison in Mexico – twice.
"In 2015, he climbed over a long tunnel with a motorcycle route under the allegedly safest prison in the country," Kahn reported. "In his freedom, he then met secretly with actor Sean Penn, who wrote about the encounter Rolling Stone Magazine."
"I offer more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anyone else in the world," Guzmán said during the interview. "I have a fleet of submarines, planes, trucks and boats."
The identities of those who testify against Guzmán are set aside in court documents, according to The Associated Press. The wire service adds, "According to court records, some are held in special prison units for their protection while others are in witness protection programs."
US prosecutors are demanding a life sentence for Guzmán and at least $ 14 billion in forfeiture. According to the New York Times, they intend to provide evidence that Guzmán has participated in at least 33 murders.
The judge, Brian M. Cogan, has reportedly expressed his frustration at how many testimonies would result in such a large number of murders.
"This is a case of drug conspiracy involving murders," Cogan said at a recent hearing Times, "I will not let you try a murder conspiracy case involving drugs … Take the best shot and cut off the rest."
The courthouse itself is under strict security and transporting Guzman from a Manhattan Federal prison to Brooklyn proves to be complicated, the AP reports.
"For pre-trial hearings, the authorities decided to transport him to and from the jail by closing down the Brooklyn Bridge to make room for a police force column that includes a SWAT team and an ambulance, all of which." Helicopters are tracked, "said the wire service.
The judge said there were "adjustments" during the trial, according to the AP, with some speculation that Guzmán would be temporarily held elsewhere.