El Chapo goes on trial over drugs, Latest World News

Jury selection in 'El Chapo' trial set to begin Monday in New York

The mythical criminal pedigree of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who was extradited in 2017 to face USA 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.

Undated photos from a wanted poster released by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Pedro, left, and his twin brother, Margarito Flores.

US District Judge Brian Cogan, prosecutors and defence lawyers on Monday morning questioned 20 potential jurors, and have so far ruled out five.

Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week set aside for jury selection, held behind closed doors with only a select "pool" of reporters admitted under the tightest security reserved for the most unsafe defendants.

Guzman faces 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges.

That criminal pedigree has prompted authorities here to keep him in solitary confinement at a New York City jail.

Jurors selected for the trial will be escorted by federal guards to and from the courthouse, officials said. The 12 jurors and six alternate jurors chosen will be escorted to and from the courthouse by armed U.S. marshals.

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The Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful and his co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large.

Prosecutors describe Guzman as one of the most unsafe and feared drug kingpins, who between 1989 and 2014 ran the world's largest drug trafficking organization.

One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, 'I feel very bad about drugs'.

Joaquin Archivaldo Guzmán Loera has always made up for his size, even if his nickname, "El Chapo", or Shorty, is a constant reminder of his squat, 5-feet-5-inches frame.

USA prosecutors contend from 1989 to 2014, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled at least 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in US$14 billion (S$19 billion). In the United States, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic.

In his way now is a lineup of government witnesses who survived the wave of violence and are expected to give details about the ruthless way he kept power for 20 years in the cutthroat world of global drug trafficking. Mexican authorities then recaptured the fugitive in January 2016.

Security for the trial is expected to be high, and not just for Guzman who escaped twice from Mexican prisons. He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.

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