Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' trial approaches

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Jury selection in the trial for the accused Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" begins Monday in Brooklyn. 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.

Meanwhile, the diminutive Guzman, 61, appeared in Brooklyn federal court for the start of jury selection wearing a dark-blue suit and a white dress shirt with a spread collar that was unbuttoned at the top. Given Guzman's current residence at a high-security prison in Manhattan, Federal agents are scrambling to find ways to transport him to the NYC borough without throwing a wrench in the city's traffic flow.

He was recruited by Guadalajara cartel boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as "The Godfather" of Mexico's modern drug cartels. In the USA, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

Mr Heroy estimates the trial will cost United States taxpayers "more than US$50 million", a price tag that includes protection programmes for at least some of the hundreds of witnesses expected to testify.

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Security for the trial is expected to be high, and not just for Guzman who escaped twice from Mexican prisons.

Guzman's co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large. "I think this is indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel has probably infiltrated the drug industry in our country", said PNP spokesman Senior Supt. As a reason, the judge cited prosecutors" contention that Guzman's cartel "employs "sicarios, ' or hit men, who carried out hundreds of acts of violence, including murders, assaults and kidnappings". In 2016, an average of 174 Americans died every day from drug overdoses. Some of them are being held in special jail units, while others are in witness protection programs. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

Judge Brian Cogan has taken the extraordinary step of holding the trial behind closed doors. The only visitors he is allowed are his three lawyers and twin, seven-year-old daughters, from whom he is separated by a thick glass screen. 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.

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. He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.