El Chapo trial expected to open in NY

'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.

Prosecutors say Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera led the Sinaloa Cartel, an alleged criminal enterprise that imported and distributed massive amounts of drugs into the United States, between January 1989 and December 2014.

Undated photos from a wanted poster released by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Pedro, left, and his twin brother, Margarito Flores.

At pretrial hearings leading to the trial, heavily armed federal officers and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled outside.

Guzman's Sinaloa cartel often described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, is believed to be operating in at least 40 countries.

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The trial is set to begin Monday with jury selection.

He was recruited by Guadalajara cartel boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as "The Godfather" of Mexico's modern drug cartels. "This prosecution demonstrates that we will apply all available resources to dismantle the leadership of unsafe drug cartels, wherever they operate, and will not rest until we have done so'".

One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, 'I feel very bad about drugs'.

The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous and once selected, will be partially sequestered.

So far only two potential jurors have expressed fear about safety.

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

Prosecutors describe Guzman as one of the most unsafe and feared drug kingpins, who between 1989 and 2014 ran the world's largest drug trafficking organization. "I don't know why it's called the El Chapo, but it's delicious", he added to laughter from Guzman's lawyer and an unimpressed defendant.

U.S. prosecutors contend from 1989 to 2014, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in US$14 billion (S$19 billion).

He's been held in solitary confinement in a high-security federal cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center since January 2017, when Mexico agreed to allow his extradition to the United States for trial.

Previously, a federal judge said in light of the history of violence surrounding the cartel which El Chapo allegedly ran and the high-profile nature of the case, he has granted jurors anonymity in the trial.

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