‘El Chapo’ Trial Set to Begin in New York

VOA News

The trial of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin «El Chapo» Guzman begins Monday in New York with jury selection.

Authorities are boosting security for the trial, including keeping confidential the names of the 12 people who will be picked to serve on the jury and the six alternates.

Opening statements are expected to begin November 13.

Mexico extradited Guzman to the United States in 2017, and ever since he has been held in solitary confinement at a New York federal prison.

Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive drug-trafficking operation in North America, including money laundering, kidnapping and murder in cities throughout the United States, including Chicago, Miami and New York. The charges carry a mandatory life prison term.

The U.S. Justice Department said that as a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman oversaw the smuggling of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana to distributors in multiple major U.S. cities.

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

Security around Guzman has also been tight ahead of the trial. He twice escaped from maximum security prisons in Mexico, and authorities have sought to protect trial witnesses from possible cartel retribution. Some of them are being held in special jail units, while others are in witness protection programs.