Jury selection in the trial for the accused Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" begins Monday in Brooklyn.
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. The 12 jurors, with six alternates, will remain anonymous.
As a reason for such precautions, Brooklyn federal judge Brian Cogan has echoed prosecutors" points that the Sinaloa Cartel is known to "[employ] "sicarios, ' " or hit men, who have carried out hundreds of acts of violence against rivals.
Opening statements in the trial are expected on November 13.
No one's hiding the ominous nature of the case from potential jurors.
Prosecutors say Guzman was in the habit of ordering the killings of anyone who got in his way during his heyday in Mexico as boss of the Sinaloa cartel. Both were dismissed. One said she "read (Guzman's) family will come after jurors and their families" and the other said she was concerned about safety "in general".
USA prosecutors say that as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman directed the movement of multi-ton shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States.
Guzman is pleading not guilty but the government has presented a wealth of evidence that includes more than 300,000 pages and at least 117,000 audio recordings.
Guzman's co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large.
In his way now is a lineup of government witnesses who survived the wave of violence and are expected to give details about the ruthless way he kept power for 20 years in the cutthroat world of global drug trafficking.
Until he was recaptured in early 2016 - and extradited to the United States in 2017 - he seemed largely untouchable. Due to security concerns, the jurors' identity will be kept secret and they will be guarded by armed marshals on the way from court to home during the expected four-month trial.
After Guzman was brought to NY, authorities here decided he should be housed in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of a federal jail in Manhattan that has held notorious terrorists and mobsters. The judge has banned his 29-year-old beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, from visiting. Guzman was re-captured in January 2016 after a visit from Hollywood actor Sean Penn and a Mexican actress, who wanted to make a film about his life, allowed Mexican authorities to trace his whereabouts.
Arrested for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, Guzman spent more than seven years in a Mexican prison before his first escape in 2001. He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.