Security was extremely tight Monday for jury selection in the trial for Joaquin ‘El Chapo‘ Guzman.
Meanwhile the Brooklyn Bridge was completely shut to traffic in both directions for his transport from his cell in Manhattan to the Eastern District Federal Court in Brooklyn.
Potential jurors, including a Michael Jackson impersonator, arrived to court to see it surrounded by heavily armed guards and bomb sniffing dogs that had staged a perimeter.
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. His trial is expected to last two to four months.
U.S. law enforcement, authorities escorted Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at a Long Island airport after he was extricated to the US in 2017
After two massive prison breaks by El Chapo in Mexico, authorities in the US are taking every precaution to keep their notorious prisoner behind bars. At the Eastern District Federal Court in Brooklyn, a swarm of heavily officers blockaded the entrance-way
Bomb sniffing dogs were also inside and on the perimeter of the federal court, as El Chapo sat in on jury selection
A swarm of federal law enforcement vehicles lined the streets near the federal court
El Chapo notoriously escaped from confinement in Mexico twice, which is in part the reason for the extreme security measures surrounding his confinement and extra measures during any of his transportation.
The second time he escaped in July of 2015 he made world headlines when he broke from maximum security Altiplano federal prison via a mile-long underground tunnel.
The alleged drug lord, has an alleged endless supply of power and money. He was astonishingly on the run for nearly six months, when his thirst for notoriety caught up with him.
He conducted a secret interview with Sean Penn, who, according to the actor, was unaware he was being surveilled by the Mexican government, and reportedly ended up being the beacon for authorities to ultimately catch up with Guzman.
He was captured in a deadly shootout in Los Mochis, a coastal city in Sinaloa.
Federal authorities have imposed extremely high security to prevent Guzman from slipping away yet again.
He’s been held in solitary confinement in a high-security federal cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center since January 2017, when Mexico agreed to allow his extradition to the United States for trial.
The federal judge said his confinement will likely change for the trial which is expected to last about four months, so as not to disrupt throngs of New Yorkers who use the Brooklyn Bridge daily.
The security around the jury is almost as tight as it is for El Chapo, who is arguably one of America’s most notorious prisoners currently in the justice system.
A judge is keeping the jury anonymous to protect them from intimidation.
They will also be escorted in and out of the court by guards.
Most of the jurors questioned at the outset said Guzman’s name ‘sounded familiar’ to them. Some mentioned they were aware he had escaped from prison in Mexico, and others recalled how he did an interview with actor Sean Penn while he was on the run.
El Chapo has been held in solitary confinement in a high-security federal cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center since January 2017
One juror was excused after she said she couldn’t be impartial, saying, ‘I feel very bad about drugs.’
As for the Michael Jackson impersonator, prosecutors expressed some concern his identity couldn’t be kept secret because there are so few people in his profession. But he was kept in the jury pool for the time being.
There is also the issue of keeping key eyewitnesses safe for their testimony against Guzman.
Prosecutors are seeking to hide the identity of cooperating witnesses out of concerns the cartel could seek retribution.
While the prosecution has redacted the names of eyewitnesses on court documents, there is speculation that Pedro and Margarito Flores, former Chicago-based narcotics wholesalers who did business with Guzman before their arrest in 2008, could potentially appear in court to testify.