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Jury selection began Monday for the US trial of Joaquin Guzman "El Chapo" Guzman with potential jurors, including a self-described professional Michael Jackson impersonator, quizzed about how much they knew about Guzman's reputation as a ruthless drug lord in Mexico.

Guzman is pleading not guilty but the government has presented a wealth of evidence that includes more than 300,000 pages and at least 117,000 audio recordings.

Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week of jury selection, held behind closed doors under security reserved for the most risky defendants.

Judge Cogan also raised concerns at the hearing about the prosecutors' planned case at the hearing.

The trial in Brooklyn under tight security brings 17 criminal charges against the 61-year-old former head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, including drug trafficking, money laundering and running a criminal organization. Those men were tried on home turf, while Guzman was extradited from Mexico in 2017.

The Sinaloa cartel Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful.

It is alleged that he spent a quarter of a century smuggling more than 155 tonnes of cocaine into the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says he was able to remain a force by communicating with his son and other cartel leaders through lawyers and others who visited him at the Altiplano prison outside Mexico City.

After Guzman was brought to NY, authorities here decided he should be housed in solitary confinement in a high-security wing of a federal jail in Manhattan that has held notorious terrorists and mobsters.

Guzman's co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large.

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After Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989, Guzman's Sinaloa cartel began its meteoric rise.

But that could create a logistical nightmare during the trial, and there is speculation that "El Chapo" is being held in a cell deep within the Brooklyn courthouse. In 2016, an average of 174 Americans died every day from drug overdoses.

Some of the informants have already been absorbed into the USA witness protection programme and given new identities and homes around the country.

Guzman has been held in solitary confinement in NY since Mexico extradited him and he spends 23 hours a day in his cell.

The only visitors he is allowed are his lawyers and twin, seven-year-old daughters, from whom he is separated by thick glass.

U.S. district court judge Brian Cogan will preside over the process behind closed doors.

Mexican authorities captured Guzman and an associate in January 2016 fleeing a raid on a house where he had been staying in northwest Mexico.

Re-arrested in February 2014, he escaped again 14 months later.


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