Notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, known to the world as 'El Chapo,' is due to stand trial in the United States on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges as of September 5, a federal judge has announced.
El Chapo garnered international headlines late last month when he promised "not to kill anyone" during his trial, rejecting through his lawyer a request by the U.S. government for an anonymous jury protected by armed guards.
The 60-year-old head of the Sinaloa Cartel stands accused of masterminding a global cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine smuggling operation, and occupying a central role in Mexico's decade-long drug war, which has so far killed more than 100,000 people.
He has been incarcerated in a New York jail since January 2017, when he was extradited to the United States.
The infamous drug lord was captured in January 2016 when he was pulled over by the authorities in a stolen Ford Focus, having fled a safe house in northwest Mexico through a network of tunnels and drains.
Six months earlier, Guzman – famously interviewed by actor Sean Penn for Rolling Stone magazine in an article published just before his capture – had escaped a maximum-security Mexican prison through a mile-long tunnel dug just for him.
U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said at Thursday's hearing in Brooklyn federal court that potential jurors would be given a written questionnaire on March 23 to screen them before the trial, Reuters reports.
Lawyers for Guzman have said in court papers that his health has deteriorated during his months in solitary confinement.
Colombian drug cartel members already deported to the United States are expected to testify at Guzman's trial, including "Don Diego" Leon Montoya Sanchez, "Don Efra" Hernandez Ramirez, Elizabeth Montoya, Ivan Urdinola, Arcangel Henao Montoya, "Pacho" Ivan Cifuentes, "Miguelito" Solano and Luis Giovani Caicedo, according to El Tiempo de Colombia.
Some will detail the air, land and sea shipments of drugs connected to El Chapo, including the use of planes and submarines, as well as the U.S. citizens and Russians hired by the drugs kingpin to assemble the vehicles.