Tightest security ever for ElChapo trial unseen in decades – if ever

Image result for El ChapoGuzmán was arrested in January 2016 after escaping from prison through a tunnel five months earlier.

The Mexican is accused of being behind the all-powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, which prosecutors say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the States.

Key associates, including one of his former lieutenants, are expected to testify against him.

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New York City is preparing for a uniquely challenging trial for alleged Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, with security concerns necessitating a police effort unseen in decades – if ever – to maintain order while protecting witnesses, New Yorkers and the defendant himself.

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán – once one of the world’s richest men – ran the Sinaloa drug cartel in northern Mexico. He was captured in January 2016, having escaped twice from jails in Mexico.

Over time, it became one of the biggest traffickers of drugs to the US and, in 2009, Guzmán entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1bn.

Guzmán narrowly avoided assassination by a rival gang in 1993 but was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Sinaloa cartel was the world’s largest drug trafficking organisation.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration says the Sinaloa cartel is behind a huge trade in meth, cocaine and heroin in the US.

EL Chapo is accused of being behind the manufacture and distribution of cocaine and other drugs – as well as ordering the killing of rivals.

He was finally arrested in January 2016 after a shoot-out with Mexican marines in Sinaloa. It later emerged he’d been interviewed by actor Sean Penn while on the run.

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The first time, in 2001, he did so by hiding in a laundry basket. The second time, in July 2015, he fled through a mile-long tunnel dug underneath his prison.

Former associates, including a one-time lieutenant to Guzmán who pleaded guilty to a trafficking conspiracy in Chicago last week, are expected to testify.

The anonymous jurors, who were all selected last week, will receive armed escorts to and from the court in Brooklyn every day.

Meanwhile, authorities have put in place a secret plan on how to accommodate Guzmán during the trial that would prevent them having to shut the Brooklyn Bridge every day, as has had to happen during previous hearings – he has been kept in a high-security prison in Manhattan.

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