Astounding security measures taken in the ‘El Chapo’ criminal trial Master escape artist Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera is the highest ranking drug cartel member to stand trial in America. Notorious cartel leader El Chapo pleaded not guilty to federal charges and is currently in trial in Brooklyn, New York. The 17 count indictment accuses El Chapo of operating a continuing criminal enterprise that included murder, conspiracy, other drug related crimes invoicing money-money- laundering and use of firearms. The allegations in the indictment date back to the 1980s.
This long-awaited trial, which is estimated to last at least four months, began under astonishing security measures. There are reports that the Brooklyn Bridge shuts down each and every time Guzman is transported to and from his solitary confinement in the Manhattan federal lock-up. During the jury selection process, all prospective jurors were directed by the judge to not make any eye contact with Guzman. After a grueling 2 1/2 day jury selection process the selected jury panel will be anonymous and sequestered during the trial. Heavily armed federal marshals and officers with bomb-sniffing dogs stand guard outside the courthouse. If you are a non-witness or non- attorney on the case wish to enter the courthouse and watch the proceedings in person you will need to go through two separate security screenings. To enter the Brooklyn courthouse and the main courtroom each witness and spectator needs to go through an x-ray machine and then a metal detector.
During the entire duration of the trial jurors will be transported to and from the courthouse by armed US Marshalls. The case against Guzman will be built mostly on the testimony of more than a dozen cooperating witnesses. Even those witnesses who may be in jail serving sentences or relocated by the US Government have remained unknown to Guzman’s defense team. Since the trial has begun the courtroom sketch artists are barred from drawing facial features or specific hairstyles of the witnesses on the stand. The judge in the federal trial along with the government prosecutors must review the sketches and authorize their release before the artist can distribute them to the public. These extreme security measures have been put in effect by Federal authorities because they believe that communications and contacts between ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and the witnesses could very much result in their death or serious bodily injury.