He is accused of having directed 25 years during the most powerful drug cartel in the world. The Mexican Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, extradited to the United States in 2017 after two escapes in Mexico, will be held under high security in New York on Monday. According to us prosecutors, “El Chapo” – ” the Squat “, in reference to its small size – is the most powerful suspect drug-dealer for the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who died in 1993. If he is convicted, he risks life imprisonment.

Joaquín Guzmán, 61, is accused of having directed, from 1989 to 2014 the cartel of Sinaloa, which shipped in the United States more than 154 tons of cocaine and vast quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, for a value estimated at $ 14 billion. Jury selection should start as soon as Monday, November 5 in the morning, behind closed doors, a measure reserved for the most dangerous criminals. Signs of possible threats, the names of the jurors shall remain secret, and guards will escort each day in court.

After about four months of hearings, they will need to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to declare El Chapo guilty of the eleven counts against him, including trafficking and distribution of drugs, firearms possession, money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty. He has not been charged with murder, but prosecutors provide also be able to demonstrate that it has sponsored at least 37 murders.

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Isolated for 23 hours on 24

They also claim to have a mountain of evidence of his guilt to the eleven indictments, submerging the defence lawyers complain of not having been able to all examine : some 300,000 pages of documents, 117 000 audio recordings, and quantities of photos and videos. Many of the documents remain confidential, as does the list of former partners, employees, or rivals of Joaquín Guzmán called to testify. Some benefit from the protection of the us government, under new identities. Others are detained in special prisons to prevent any retaliation.

After you have escaped twice to his jailers in mexico, El Chapo is the subject of conditions of detention draconian since his arrival in the United States in January 2017, his lawyers have never ceased to denounce. He is in solitary confinement in a cell without a window for 23 hours out of 24. The only people allowed to visit him, through a window, are his lawyers, and his twin seven-year-old. On the other hand, his wife Emma Coronel, a beauty queen 29-year-old, married when she was 17, is prohibited. Since his incarceration in the United States, she has assisted with their daughters in the almost all of the hearings.

first Arrested in Guatemala in 1993, El Chapo escaped in 2001 from prison in mexico, hidden in a bin of dirty laundry. Arrested in February 2014, he had managed to escape, fourteen months later, via a tunnel of 1.5 km long dug under the shower of his cell. It was resumed in January 2016. The authorities had traced him after he had received in the jungle the american actor Sean Penn and actress american-mexican Kate del Castillo, from the interviewer to make a movie about his life.

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Expensive lawsuit

According to Rob Heroy, a former prosecutor and lawyer who has defended other drug traffickers in mexico, this process could cost more than $ 50 million. Potentially “the trial is the most expensive in the history of the United States,” he told the Agency France-Presse. Even without Guzman, the cartel still remains potent. His partner presumed, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, is still on the run and Mexico suffers more than ever from the grip of the drug traffickers, with a record of about 29 000 homicides in 2017.

And the United States continue to receive their neighbour to the South large quantities of drugs, including opioids, increasingly powerful, become one of the main causes of mortality american. The only holding of this trial is nevertheless a success for american justice : although he has flooded the United States with cocaine in the 1980s, Pablo Escobar was never found, the famous Colombian who was shot dead during a police operation in Medellin in 1993. The american authorities have negotiated extensively with Mexico for the extradition of El Chapo, obtained in return for a promise that he would not run.

On the same subject, Love, blood, and cocaine : in the heart of the empire of El Chapo