The New York trial opened Monday under huge security for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's most notorious criminals accused of spending a quarter of a century smuggling cocaine into the United States.
Potential jurors arrived at the courthouse Monday to find it under tight security that included heavily armed officers, some doing sweeps with bomb-sniffing dogs.
Guzman's defense attorneys have argued the level of security creates a public spectacle that's prejudicial to jurors. Given Guzman's current residence at a high-security prison in Manhattan, Federal agents are scrambling to find ways to transport him to the NYC borough without throwing a wrench in the city's traffic flow. But the face of the ruthless Sinaloa Cartel heads to court the subject of a prestige podcast and a popular crime drama, which Cogan said could muddy the jury pool.
The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous and once selected, will be partially sequestered.More news: Teen Accused Of Killing Mom And Burying Her Body Over Bad Grade
The trial is set to begin Monday with jury selection.
Opening statements in the trial are expected on November 13.
"It's probably set up to be the most expensive trial in the history of the United States", said Rob Heroy, a North Carolina lawyer who has defended other Mexican drug barons. "This prosecution demonstrates that we will apply all available resources to dismantle the leadership of risky drug cartels, wherever they operate, and will not rest until we have done so'".
No one's hiding the ominous nature of the case from potential jurors.More news: Give Him Big Credit - Mauricio Pochettino Salutes Member of Backroom Staff
"What scares me is that his family could come after jurors and their families", one of the women told the court, just feet away from where Guzman was sitting, saying she felt "nervous" and "unsafe". The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.
Guzman is charged with 17 counts of murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking and money laundering. US authorities have described the group as one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world. "I think this is indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel has probably infiltrated the drug industry in our country", said PNP spokesman Senior Supt. USA prosecutors contend that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled at least 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana, raking in $14 billion.
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.More news: Samsung to reveal some features of foldable phone this week