Accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's trial is scheduled to begin today with jury selection in a U.S. federal court in Brooklyn. Guzman sat at the defence table listening through an interpreter and wearing street clothes - a dark suit and a white shirt with an open collar - instead of a jail uniform for the first time since he was extradited to the United States early a year ago.
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.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan is taking a further precaution of keeping jurors' names from the public and giving them escorts to and from court. He faces life in prison if convicted in this trial, which is set for opening statements to begin November 13.
The judge ruled that just five news reporters, a fraction of the swarm of media representatives following the trial, will be allowed in the courtroom during jury selection.
The now imprisoned brothers paid a steep price for flipping: Prosecutors say in 2009 their father was murdered in Mexico by a cartel hit team. "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'". US Marshals will escort them to and from the federal court every day.
One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, "I feel very bad about drugs".
Identities of the 12 selected jurors and six alternates will remain anonymous and they will be escorted to and from the courthouse every day by armed United States marshals.
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After Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989, Guzman's Sinaloa cartel began its meteoric rise.
Until he was recaptured in early 2016 - and extradited to the United States in 2017 - he seemed largely untouchable.
The former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was extradited to the United States from Mexico early a year ago.
"'El Chapo Guzman is the world's #1 drug criminal", DEA spokesperson Rusty Payne told Forbes after his apprehension in 2014. Prosecutors say the Sinaloa Cartel, named for Guzman's home state, smuggled more than 200 tons of cocaine into the United States.
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is at the center of a high-profile trial.