Jury selection begins for El Chapo's trial

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The trial of notorious Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman begins in a NY court on Monday with the selection of 12 anonymous jurors.

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

The accused killer drug boss did not make eye contact with the prospective jurors, even though they were seated no more than 10 feet away from the leader of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel during questioning.

The identities of most scheduled prosecution witnesses also are being kept secret.

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Jurors selected for the trial will be escorted by federal guards to and from the courthouse, officials said.

The trial in Brooklyn under tight security brings 17 criminal charges against the 61-year-old former head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, including drug trafficking, money laundering and running a criminal organization.

Cogan last week barred members of the public from attending the trial sessions when potential jurors are asked about their knowledge of the case, any hesitation about serving, and whether they can render a fair and impartial verdict.

Opening statements in the trial are expected on November 13.

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Prosecutors say that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the United States, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $14 billion.

Federal prosecutors say from January 1989 to December 2014, Guzman's cartel was responsible for importing and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and killed those who threatened the enterprise. Arrested for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, El Chapo spent more than seven years in a Mexican prison before his first escape in 2001. He was recaptured in Mexico in February 2014. Prosecutors spent years piecing together a sweeping case against Guzman, who was extradited in 2017 after twice escaping prison in Mexico―first hidden in a laundry cart, then slipping down a tunnel that reached his prison shower. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiralled into an epidemic. "This prosecution demonstrates that we will apply all available resources to dismantle the leadership of unsafe drug cartels, wherever they operate, and will not rest until we have done so'".

The trial, which one expert says will cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $50m (£38m), will hear several hundred witnesses testify. McCoy reported from NY.

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