'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

The trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman begins Monday in NY with jury selection. The government has presented so much evidence that the defence complains they have not had enough time to review it all.

However, US District Judge Brian Cogan said at a hearing last Tuesday that the volume of documents was in line with what they should have expected, noting that prosecutors had said in July that it could be 25,000 pages and that sprawling, complex cases like Guzman's were necessarily challenging for both sides.

Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week set aside for jury selection, held behind closed doors with only a select "pool" of reporters admitted under the tightest security reserved for the most risky defendants. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Guzman was extradited to the United States from Mexico on January 19, 2017, after escaping twice from Mexican prisons before being captured again.

The defendant accused of running the massive Sinaloa drug cartel, observed the first day of jury selection dressed in a navy suit, white shirt with a wide disco-style collar, flashing a smile but otherwise impervious.

Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017 on an indictment that detailed his alleged reign over a merciless trafficking organization controlled through murder and torture.

One of Mexico's most notorious drug lords will go on trial in the United States later on Monday.

But that could create a logistical nightmare during the trial, and there is speculation that "El Chapo" is being held in a cell deep within the Brooklyn courthouse.

Some of the informants have already been absorbed into the U.S. witness protection programme and given new identities and homes around the country.

The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful and his co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large. Even Guzman's lawyers are in the dark as to all the former associates, hired hands or rivals who have turned informants. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

Last year, there was a record 29,000 murders in Mexico.

United States district court judge Brian Cogan will preside over the process behind closed doors. Arrested for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, El Chapo spent more than seven years in a Mexican prison before his first escape in 2001.

In a secret meeting with actor Sean Penn which the Hollywood star wrote about in Rolling Stone magazine in 2016, Guzman boasted: "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world". He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.

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