Jury Selection for El Chapo Trial Begins

Before arriving for jury duty on Monday, prospective panel members filled out a lengthy questionnaire that might have given them pause.

“The case for which you are summoned involves the defendant JOAQUIN ARCHIVALDO GUZMAN LOERA, also known as ‘El Chapo,’ ” read query No. 48. “Have you read, seen or heard anything about the defendant, the case, or people involved?”

It would be hard not to.

“In some ways, this case is unprecedented; the amount of public attention has been extraordinary,” Brooklyn US District Court Judge Brian Cogan wrote in a recent ruling.

That will be a major challenge when jury selection begins on Monday for Mexican cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Everything is extraordinary in the long-awaited case against a defendant once considered the world’s most powerful drug trafficker.

The international scope of an alleged criminal enterprise that spanned continents “makes it an outlier among even the biggest drug prosecutions to date,” Cogan wrote last week.

Guzman rose from being a teenage marijuana grower to earn nearly $14 billion during his years as boss of the Sinaloa drug cartel, according to federal prosecutors in New York.

A Robin Hood-like figure celebrated in ballads in his native Mexico, he was once featured in Forbes‘ rankings of the world’s most powerful people. The Sinaloa cartel was prolifically violent in his country’s long and bloody drug wars.

“There are not many cases whose allegations are dramatized in popular television productions and podcasts before the trial has even begun,” Cogan wrote.

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SOURCE: CNN, Ray Sanchez