El Chapo's United States drugs trial kicks off under tight security

'El Chapo' Trial: Trial of alleged drug kingpin to begin in US

In another security move, the names of trial witnesses were blacked out on court documents as prosecutors feared that their cooperation would make them targets for the cartel.

One of those dismissed was a woman who had written on her questionnaire, "Drugs are bad for you".

The U.S. Justice Department said that as a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman oversaw the smuggling of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana to distributors in multiple major U.S. cities. In 2016, an average of 174 Americans died every day from drug overdoses.

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. He faces life in prison if convicted in this trial, which is set for opening statements to begin November 13.

Guzman, who allegedly continued to run the world's largest drug-trafficking operation even while behind bars in Mexico, now faces the possibility of life imprisonment in the United States.

The judge also agreed with prosecutors that the jury for the case should be kept anonymous, a measure typical in terrorism or mob cases where jury intimidation is a concern.

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He twice escaped from maximum security prisons in Mexico, and authorities have sought to protect trial witnesses from possible cartel retribution.

U.S. prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman directed the worldwide trafficking of multi-ton shipments of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. Heroy estimates the trial will cost United States taxpayer "more than $50 million", a price tag that includes protection programs for at least some of the several hundred witnesses expected to testify.

Guzman, 61, has been in solitary confinement since being extradited to the United States from Mexico in January 2017. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

A query acquired by CNN reads "The case for which you are summoned involves the defendant JOAQUIN ARCHIVALDO GUZMAN LOERA, also known as 'El Chapo.' Have you read, seen or heard anything about the defendant, the case, or people involved?"

Last year, there was a record 29,000 murders in Mexico.

Mexican authorities captured Guzman and an associate in January 2016 fleeing a raid on a house where he had been staying in northwest Mexico.

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