Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Accused Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' faces U.S. trial

Accused Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' faces U.S. trial

The mythical criminal pedigree of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who was extradited in 2017 to face US drug conspiracy charges, has sparked security concerns at his upcoming New York City trial that at times have drawn as much attention as the case's sensational allegations.

Guzman formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, which became one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. He faces life in prison if convicted in this trial, which is set for opening statements to begin November 13. Natasha Hussain has the details.

The jurors were called into the courtroom wearing stickers identifying them by number, their names withheld to protect their safety.

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.

U.S. prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel since 2003, Guzman directed the movement of multi-ton shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States.

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Guzman has been held in solitary confinement in NY since Mexico extradited him in January 2017, one day before Donald Trump took office.

He was captured in a deadly shootout in Los Mochis, a coastal city in Sinaloa. Others recalled how he did an interview with actor Sean Penn while he was on the run.

El Chapo - "Shorty", for his 5-foot-6 stature - has been an iconic figure in the drug trade for decades. He was serving a 20-year sentence on drug-trafficking charges in a different prison when he pulled off an intricate escape in 2001. "Probably not. The machine keeps rolling", says Rob Heroy, a North Carolina lawyer who has defended other Mexican drug barons.

Undated photos from a wanted poster released by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Pedro, left, and his twin brother, Margarito Flores. In the USA, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic. He was known internationally as the head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel. "Guzman Loera made billions of illicit dollars".

United States 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. McCoy reported from NY.

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