The most powerful drug trafficker in the world, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman’s trial will begin in New York tomorrow after prosecutors spent years getting his case in order.
El Chapo is accused of running the world’s biggest drug cartel and spending 25 years smuggling more than 155 tons of cocaine, worth $14 billion, into the United States.
The trial in a Brooklyn federal court, which will cost millions of dollars and is expected to last more than four months, will see one of the world’s most notorious criminals face the US justice system.
Prosecutors spent years piecing together a sweeping case against Guzman, who was extradited in 2017 after twice escaping prison in Mexico, first hidden in a laundry cart, then slipping down a tunnel that reached his prison shower.
El Chapo Guzman has been branded the world’s biggest drug lord of all time since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was dubbed “The King of Cocaine” and was one of the wealthiest men in the world until police shot him dead in 1993.
Experts say the government has a near water-tight case likely to send Guzman, 61, to a maximum security US prison for the rest of his life.
Who is Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman?
El Chapo is a Mexican drug lord who headed the Sinaloa Cartel, a criminal organization named after the Mexican Pacific coast state of Sinaloa where it was formed.
Because of his stature ( 168 cm (5 ft 6 in), he was known as “El Chapo” which translates in English “Shorty”.
He was considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by the United States Department of the Treasury.
Each year from 2009 to 2011, Forbes magazine ranked Guzman as one of the most powerful people in the world, ranking him 41st, 60th, and 55th, respectively.
He was thus the second most powerful man in Mexico, after Carlos Slim.
He was first captured in 1993 in Guatemala and was extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking.
In 2001, El Chapo bribed prison guards and escaped from a federal maximum-security prison.
He was arrested a second time in Mexico on 22 February 2014, found inside a fourth-floor condominium in Mazatlán, Sinaloa. Guzmán escaped again in July 2015 through a 1.5 km (0.93 mi) tunnel that led to a construction site.
El Chapo was recaptured by Mexican marines and Federal Police following a shoot-out on 8 January 2016.
He was later extradited to the United States on 19 January 2017 to face criminal charges related to his leadership of the Sinaloa cartel.