The highly-anticipated trial of the man credited with ‘revolutionising’ the drug-trafficking trade began in the U.S. on Tuesday.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman could spend the rest of his life in prison if a jury finds him guilty of the 17 criminal counts he has been charged with, which include drug-trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy to murder.
In what’s been described as an ‘unprecedented’ trial of the accused former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, opening remarks began in New York amid extraordinary security measures to protect jurors as well as witnesses, some of whom are former cartel members.
Throughout the high-profile trial, which is expected to run for at least four months, jurors will remain anonymous and partially sequestered with armed federal marshals transporting them to and from the court house.
The accused, who has previously made two daring escapes from prison, will be kept in solitary throughout his trial with security expected to be tightened as far as shutting down parts of the Brooklyn bridge while he is escorted by motorcade, CBS reported.
But Tuesday’s opening remarks in New York were already delayed after two of the selected jurors dropped out.
It comes following a complex jury selection process during which at least two other potential jurors were removed after citing safety concerns.
anonymity reportedly contained a promise from the accused kingpin that he would not have any of the jurors killed.
According to the LA Times one juror was removed last week after admitting Guzman’s promise not to harm jurors made them “anxious”.
During their opening remarks, defence lawyers painted Guzman as a “scapegoat” for the real leader of Mexico’s infamous Sinaloa Cartel who they claimed had bribed Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto for his freedom.