Accused Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' faces United States trial

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

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's reputation as a murderous cocaine smuggler has federal authorities taking no chances as his trial gets underway.

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. Guzman sat at the defense table listening through an interpreter and wearing street clothes - a dark suit and a white shirt with an open collar - instead a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradicted to the United States early previous year.

Potential jurors, including a Michael Jackson impersonator, arrived to court to see it surrounded by heavily armed guards and bomb sniffing dogs that had staged a perimeter.

The trial is set to begin Monday with jury selection. He was known internationally as the head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.

After two massive prison breaks by El Chapo in Mexico, authorities in the U.S. are taking every precaution to keep their notorious prisoner behind bars. Jurors will also be escorted by U.S. marshals to court daily while remaining anonymous throughout the trial. Another was sent home after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, "I feel very bad about drugs".

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Guzman, who allegedly continued to run the world's largest drug-trafficking operation even while behind bars in Mexico, now faces the possibility of life imprisonment in the United States. "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.

It is these ordinary men and women who will determine whether Guzman - the diminutive father of two whose nickname means "shorty" - is guilty or not of 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

Prosecutors say the USA government is seeking a $14 billion forfeiture order as part of the case.

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

Pretrial hearings held in early October forced law enforcement officials to close the Brooklyn Bridge up to twice a day as they transported Guzman to and from the courthouse located near the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and his high-security residence.

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