Brooklyn Federal Judge Orders Anonymous Jury for 'El Chapo' Trial
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan orders measure is necessary for safety of jurors
What to Know
* Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will have an anonymous jury at his U.S. trial, scheduled to start later this year
* U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan agreed with prosecutors that withholding jurors' names was needed to address fears they could be intimidated
* Since his extradition in January 2017, Guzman has been held in solitary confinement at a high-security federal jail in Manhattan
Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman will have an anonymous jury at his U.S. trial, which is scheduled to start later this year.
In a written order, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan agreed with prosecutors that withholding the names of jurors was needed to address fears that they could be harassed or intimidated.
Jurors will also be escorted to and from the Brooklyn courthouse by deputy U.S. marshals and sequestered from the public while inside, Cogan wrote in the order, released by the prosecutors on Tuesday.
U.S. prosecutors offered "strong and credible reasons" as to why the jury needs protections, including Guzman's alleged use of hitmen who carried out acts of violence over more than two decades, Cogan wrote.
Guzman's attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, said Tuesday that his client was disappointed by the ruling.
The defense has argued that an anonymous jury would give the false impression that Guzman is dangerous.
"All he is asking for is a fair trial in front of an impartial jury," Balarezo said in a statement.
Guzman has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a massive international drug trafficking operation.
Since his extradition in January 2017, Guzman has been held in solitary confinement at a high-security federal jail in Manhattan.
U.S. officials are mindful that Guzman escaped twice from prison in Mexico. Guzman's second escape was via a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower of his cell.
In the past, Guzman used his connections to continue running his drug empire from behind bars, prosecutors allege. They also claim that in the United States, Guzman had the support of criminals who are not under his direct control.
U.S. prosecutors cited media reports of an alleged YouTube video made last year by a group of prisoners in California. The prisoners, who concealed their faces, boasted in Spanish that they were hitmen at Guzman’s service. The video has since been removed from the internet.
Guzman is due back in court on Feb. 15 for a pretrial hearing.
Cogan has indicated he expects the trial to begin in the fall.
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