76° Good Morning
76° Good Morning

El Chapo trial judge asks for larger jury pool

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said he was asking for a pool of 800 to 1,000 prospective jurors.

El Chapo's drug trial needs a bigger jury

El Chapo's drug trial needs a bigger jury pool, a federal judge said on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Charles Reed / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via Getty Images

The Brooklyn federal judge overseeing the trial of alleged drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera said Tuesday he was asking for a pool of 800 to 1,000 prospective jurors to choose 12 to hear the trial in September, upping the number from 650.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said the pool was as big as he could remember being assembled. The increase resulted from a joint request from prosecutors and defense lawyers, who said the complexity, high-profile and likely 12-week length would knock out lots of potential jurors.

Cogan said the pool would be summoned to court in late July to fill out questionnaires, with jury selection and the trial beginning in September. Guzman, who was extradited from Mexico last year, is charged with shipping 20 tons of cocaine into the United States as head of the Sinaloa cartel.

Prosecutors have signaled that they planned to present a massive conspiracy case ranging from the history of the cartel and Guzman’s two escapes from Mexican prisons to his role in “systematic” violence, torture and murders to gain and retain power that fueled thousands of deaths in Mexican drug wars.

Jurors are to be anonymous and partially sequestered, and the government says it will call “numerous” cooperating witnesses and informants, supplementing their testimony with drug ledgers, satellite surveillance, wiretaps and consensual recordings.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Guzman lawyer Eduardo Balarezo dropped a request from his client to speak directly to the judge about jail conditions and high-security measures at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan that had been a bone of contention since he came to the United States.

But Balarezo said he was having Guzman examined for a second time by a mental health expert for a presentation about his deterioration in solitary confinement. Guzman’s wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, said in comments to reporters afterward that she also was concerned about his health.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 30.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos