Jury selection begins for El Chapo’s trial

Jury selection begins for El Chapo’s trial

Guzman's co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large.

The trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, which is expected to last four months, began Monday with the selection of jurors in Brooklyn federal court.

Guzman will join the ranks of mobsters John Gotti and Vincent Basciano, whose career-ending appearances in the Eastern District courthouse each brought in more than 1,000 potential jurors. Prosecutors have so far avoided naming the witnesses, saying that doing so would put them in danger.

Guzman, one of the most notorious criminals in the world, sat in court sporting a navy suit, white shirt with a wide disco-style collar and various buttons undone, flashing a smile for the start of jury selection.

The alleged drug kingpin is accused of running a cartel that laundered billions of dollars while overseeing ruthless kidnappings and murders.

Joaquin Archivaldo Guzmán Loera has always made up for his size, even if his nickname, "El Chapo", or Shorty, is a constant reminder of his squat, 5-feet-5-inches frame.

After Guzman was brought to NY, authorities here decided he should be housed in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of a federal jail in Manhattan that has held notorious terrorists and mobsters.

USA prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel since 2003, Guzman directed the movement of multi-ton shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

The logistical problem for his keepers: The case is being prosecuted across the East River in federal court in Brooklyn.

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 wealthiest men in the world until police shot him dead in 1993.

And as for the Michael Jackson impersonator, prosecutors expressed some concern his identity couldn't be kept secret because there are so few people in his profession. Prosecutors have asked that he be excused because his work could make him easy to identify.

Numerous questions were routine in any criminal case, including whether jurors had strong feelings about law enforcement or witnesses testifying under cooperation agreements with prosecutors.

Related Articles