The trial of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges, which is expected to last four months, began Monday with the selection of jurors in Brooklyn federal court.
Prosecutors say Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera led the Sinaloa Cartel, an alleged criminal enterprise that imported and distributed massive amounts of drugs into the United States, between January 1989 and December 2014. Those men were tried on home turf, while Guzman was extradited from Mexico in 2017.
The 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.
Potential jurors will be asked if they know of Guzman and if they or anyone close to them has ever felt fearful or threatened by people who they thought were associated with drug crimes.
Guzman's Sinaloa cartel often described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, is believed to be operating in at least 40 countries.
"It's probably set up to be the most expensive trial in the history of the U.S.", he said.
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.
U.S. prosecutors have spent years piecing together a case that they hope will end with the 61-year-old spending the rest of his life in a maximum-security USA prison.More news: Ted Cruz holds off Beto O'Rourke to keep Texas Senate seat
There were also questioned in Brooklyn's federal court about their views on the legalization of marijuana, their fluency with Spanish and their feelings toward both law enforcement and cooperating witnesses.
One juror was excused after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, "I feel very bad about drugs".
A judge is keeping the jury anonymous to protect them from intimidation.
After Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989, Guzman's Sinaloa cartel began its meteoric rise.
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.
Prosecutors say the USA government is seeking a $14 billion forfeiture order as part of the case. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.