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The jury election begins in the US investigation of Mexican drug hero “El Chapo”

By Brendan Pierson NEW YORK (Reuters) – The trial of Mexican drug giant Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on drug smuggling…

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The trial of Mexican drug giant Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman on drug smuggling and conspiracy charges, expected to be four months, began Monday with the election of jury members in the Brooklyn federal court.

US District Director Brian Cogan, prosecutors and defense consultants on Monday morning questioned 20 potential jury members and have so far excluded five. The lawyers were invited to court with stickers that identified them by number, and their names were held to protect their security.

Guzman, in the courtroom, had a navy blue suit and an open-eyed white shirt, could see them, though he seemed to pay them some attention.

Guzman, 61, formerly led Sinaloa Cartel, named after his base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which became one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world.

Guzman’s nickname, a reference to his five foot, six inches (1.67 meters) height, is often translated into English as “Shorty.”

He was handed to the United States from Mexico on January 19, 2017, after having been twice from Mexico prisons before being captured again.

US prosecutors say that Guzman, as director of Sinaloa Cartel, led the movement of multiple toner drug transmission, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine across borders and into the United States. If he is sentenced, he is facing prison.

JURY SELECTION

The potential jury members had previously filled in written questionnaires and much of the question about Monday touched their response. One of those dismissed was a woman who had written on her questionnaire, “Drug is bad for you.”

“I feel very bad about drugs,” she said when Cogan asked about the answer.

Another man was sent away after acknowledging that he had read about the case on Wikipedia after receiving his jury’s call. Others were excused because of personal ties to law enforcement, planning conflicts and concerns about lost income.

Those still in operation include a self-written professional impersonator for late pop star Michael Jackson. Prosecutors have asked him to be excused for his job to make it easy for him to identify.

The jury election is expected to continue in the afternoon.

Many of the issues were routine in all criminal cases, including if jury members had strong feelings

A recurring theme was the legalization of marijuana: several jury members said they supported it but when they questioned said they could be impartial in road traffic on marihuana.

(Reporting of Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing Susan Thomas and Alistair Bell)

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