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By Dareh Gregorian and Adam Reiss
It will be a longer wait for opening arguments in the long-awaited trial of the notorious drug lord known as “El Chapo.”
Prosecutors were expected to preview their case against Joaquin Guzman Loera — the man they say oversaw “the largest drug trafficking organization in the world” — on Tuesday morning in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
But the opening arguments were delayed after one of the 12 jurors was excused because of anxiety. The panelist was one of seven women on the jury. The panelists are being kept anonymous because of security concerns.
Judge Brian Cogan and the lawyers on the case were working to select a replacement from a pool of 10 potential jurors.
Guzman, 61, is standing trial on a 17-count indictment charging him with drug trafficking, murder conspiracy and money laundering over a span of 25 years. Prosecutors say in court filings that he ruled Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel using violence and mayhem. The cartel “manufactured and imported multi-ton quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States,” and “generated billions of dollars in profit,” their filings say.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty.
In attendance was Guzman’s former beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro. A lawyer for Guzman had asked Cogan to allow her client to give his wife a hug before opening arguments, but the judge turned the request down for security reasons.
Guzman notoriously escaped from two maximum security prisons in Mexico. That’s resulted in extremely high-security in the courthouse, with extra metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs.