Curtain rises on El Chapo jury selection amid extraordinary security

Unlike most other trials in America, jury selection for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is closed to the public. That is because the he is unlike most other criminals in America-worth billions as the world's most powerful drug boss.

On Monday El Chapo appeared in court, dressed in a blue blazer and looking more like a country club member than a kingpin.

The buttoned-up court facility was quite a security scene.

Federal agents have placed an electronic threat detector on the sidewalk by the front door and anyone entering the courthouse must pass through two metal detectors.

Just to get El Chapo from the federal lockup in Manhattan to the courthouse in Brooklyn takes a small army.

The drug lord is said to be locked inside a security capsule; which is fixed to the floor of an armored vehicle; protected inside by a team of officers with automatic weapons; and escorted in a commando-style convoy capable of repelling an attack.

In an effort to prevent an assault on the caravan and risk another Chapo escape, authorities are closing the Brooklyn Bridge while delivering him to court.

"Transportation is part of the big vulnerability" said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, now an ABC News security consultant. "It may look like overkill but I think they're doing it for a very good valid reason" Garrett said.

El Chapo has been held in solitary confinement for 15 months, a situation that his attorney said is playing mind games on the cartel boss.

"His mental state has deteriorated, not just his memory but his affect, the way he understands things" said Eduardo Balarez, El Chapo's lawyer. "He is not the man he was when I first met him."

Investigators say the billionaire drug cartel boss is responsible for the deaths of several thousand people during his career...and they plan to use evidence of several dozen murders in the drug trafficking prosecution.

Among the expected witnesses: twin brothers from Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. Monday on Eyewitness News at 10pm, the I-Team looks into who they are, what they know and how the undercurrent of the El Chapo case runs from Illinois to New York.

"From day one the government's case will be geared toward telling a tale of the most notorious the most productive the most fearsome narcos in the history of the world" said former Chicago federal prosecutor Gil Soffer, now ABC7's legal analyst. "That's with this case is going to be about" Soffer said.

The beginning of the end for El Chapo was exactly a decade ago this week. Also Monday night at 10pm, we will hear from the Chicago federal prosecutor who was in the room and at the table when those crucial decisions were made that would eventually land El Chapo at the bar of American justice.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.