El Chapo's USA drugs trial kicks off under tight security

El Chapo's USA drugs trial kicks off under tight security

El Chapo's USA drugs trial kicks off under tight security

The trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman begins Monday in NY with jury selection.

During the trial there will be increased security, including patrols by heavily armed federal agents.

According to the indictment, the Sinaloa cartel, which Guzman is accused of leading from 1989 to 2014, became "the largest drug trafficking organisation in the world. with thousands of members".

That led to speculation Monday that Guzman would be held in a special cell deep within the Brooklyn courthouse facility.

The identities of most scheduled prosecution witnesses also are being kept secret. US Marshals will escort them to and from the federal court every day.

Guzman, 61, is charged with 17 criminal counts including drug trafficking, conspiring to murder rivals, money laundering, and weapons offenses.

Guzman's defense attorneys have argued the level of security creates a public spectacle that's prejudicial to jurors.

Opening statements in the trial are expected on November 13.

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

He was recruited by Guadalajara cartel boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, known as "The Godfather" of Mexico's modern drug cartels. The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.

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.

TRT World's Nick Harper is outside the Brooklyn Federal Court.

A few months earlier, Guzman gave a widely publicised interview to American actor Sean Penn for Rolling Stone magazine in which he said: "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world". He was recaptured in Mexico in February 2014.

It is alleged that he spent a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States.

The ruthless reputation of the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo has sparked security concerns at his upcoming US trial.

U.S. prosecutors have spent years piecing together a case that they hope will end with the 61-year-old spending the rest of his life in a maximum-security United States prison.

Mr Heroy estimates the trial will cost U.S. 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. McCoy reported from NY.

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