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Trial of drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman to begin with a jury and high security

The trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is accustomed to running the world's biggest drug cartel, is about to begin in the US with anonymous jurors and high security.

It is alleged that he spent a quarter of a century smuggling more than a ton of cocaine into the United States.

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.

Guzman, 61, who was extradited from Mexico in 2017 after twice escaping prison – first in a laundry cart, then slipping down a tunnel.

Guzman has been branded the world's biggest drug lord since Colombia's Pablo Escobar, who was dubbed "The King of Cocaine" and was one of the most wealthy men in the world.

Legal experts say the case against Guzman is water-tight and could see him being a maximum security prison for the remainder of his life.

The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful and his co-defendant Ismael's "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large.

Jury selection will take place amid tight security conditions reserved only for the most dangerous defendants.

Guzman's trial wants to take place amid high security
Guzman's trial wants to take place amid high security and with anonymous jurors

US District Court Judge Brian Cogan wants to get over the process behind closed doors.

The 12 jurors, with six alternates, wants to remain anonymous and wants to be escorted by US Marshals to and from the court every day.

The jury wants to determine whether Guzman – the father of two nickname means "shorty" as he is only 5ft 2ins tall – is guilty or not of 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges.

According to the indictment, the Sinaloa cartel, which Guzman became accused of leading from 1989 to 2014, became "the largest drug trafficking organization in the world … with thousands of members".

During Guzman's Reign, the cartel's empire expanded across the globe, stretching from the Americas to Europe and Asia.

It is believed that from 1989 to 2014, the smuggled 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the US, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $ 14bn (£ 11bn).

Guzman's wealth from drugs what's on What's on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires but he dropped out in 2013 after spending a lot of his money on protection.

In a secret meeting with actor Sean Penn who wrote about Rolling Stone magazine in 2016, Guzman boasted: "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world." I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes , trucks and boats. "

Guzman was born in 1957 in the Mexican town of Badiraguato – where several drugs lords operated.

He was recruited by Guadalajara cartel boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as "The Godfather" of Mexico's modern drug cartels.

After Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989, Guzman's Sinaloa cartel began its meteoric rise.

Guzman is pledging to have more than 300,000 pages and 117,000 audio recordings.

The trial, which one expert says will cost the US taxpayer more than $ 50m (£ 38m), wants to testify several hundred witnesses.

Some of the informants have already been used in the US witness protection programs and given new identities and homes around the country.

The shower where El Chapo escaped through a tunnel in 2015.
The shower where El Chapo escaped through a tunnel in 2015.

Guzman has been held in solitary confinement in New York since Mexico extradited him and he spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

29-year-old beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, from visiting. The only people he's allowed are three lawyers and twin seven-year-old daughters.

He has complained that his cell is too small and that he is not in good health.

Arrested for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, Guzman spent more than seven years in a Mexican prison before his first escape in 2001.

He was arrested again by Mexican marines in February 2014 but was escaped 14 months later before being re-captured in January 2016.

His story has been the subject of numerous documentaries and a Netflix series.


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