Twelve New Yorkers were chosen Wednesday to sit on the jury that will decide the fate of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, whose trial on US drug trafficking charges begins next week.
Among the seven women and five men are at least three immigrants, three Spanish speakers and several people with ties to law enforcement. Almost all had heard of Guzman, but said they could be impartial.
“We are satisfied with the jury that has been selected,” Eduardo Balarezo, one of Guzman’s lawyers, told reporters.
The trial, which could last up to four months, is set to begin at the federal District Court in Brooklyn with lawyers’ opening statements next Tuesday.
Guzman, 61, was long known as the leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, which became one of the most powerful drug trafficking organisations in the world. His nickname – a reference to his height at five-feet, six-inches (1.67 m) – is often translated in English as ‘Shorty.’
He was extradited to the United States on Jan. 19, 2017, after escaping twice from Mexican prisons before being recaptured.
Guzman’s lawyers have hinted they will try to prove he played a smaller role in the cartel.
US prosecutors say that under Guzman’s leadership, the cartel directed massive shipments of drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine bound for the United States. If convicted, Guzman faces life in prison.