The trial of drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is to begin in New York under intense security.
Guzmán was arrested in January 2016 after escaping from prison through a tunnel five months earlier.
The Mexican is accused of being behind the all-powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, which prosecutors say was the biggest supplier of drugs to the States.
Key associates, including one of his former lieutenants, are expected to testify against him.
Who is El Chapo?
Joaquín Guzmán Loera was born in 1957 to a family of farmers. His first taste of drug trafficking came while he worked in marijuana and opium poppy fields.
After that, he served an apprenticeship of sorts under Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo (or The Godfather), the chief of the all-powerful Guadalajara cartel.
El Chapo (or “Shorty” – he is only 5ft 6ins, or one metre 64cm) went on to head the Sinaloa cartel in north-west Mexico in the late 1980s.
Over time, it became one of the biggest traffickers of drugs to the US and, in 2009, Guzmán entered Forbes’ list of the world’s richest men at number 701, with an estimated worth of $1bn.
Guzmán narrowly avoided assassination by a rival gang in 1993 but was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in jail.
He escaped again, before being captured for the second time in January 2016 and extradited to the US.
His other nicknames, according to the US indictment, include El Rapido, Shorty, El Senor, El Jefe, Nana, Apa, Papa and Inge.
What is the Sinaloa cartel?
The Sinaloa cartel, named after a state in north-west Mexico, fought off several rival groups – largely at Guzmán’s instigation – to dominate Mexico’s drug trade, and therefore trafficking to the US.
Guzmán’s indictment says the cartel ended up becoming the world’s largest drug trafficking organisation, and a report to US Congress in July 2018 said it had earnings of up to $3bn (£2.3bn) a year in 2012.
It said the gang had influence in at least 50 different countries.
In 2017, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said the Sinaloa cartel “exports and distributes wholesale amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin” into the US through distribution hubs in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago.
There are questions now as to whether the cartel is on the decline, as it faces challenges from other gangs.
Guzmán is accused of being behind the manufacture and distribution of cocaine and other drugs – as well as ordering the killing of rivals.
He was finally arrested in January 2016 after a shoot-out with Mexican marines in Sinaloa. It later emerged he’d been interviewed by actor Sean Penn while on the run.
“Mission accomplished,” Mexico’s then-president Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted on 8 January, 2016. “We got him.”
After almost two years on the run, Guzmán was tracked down to a house in an affluent part of Los Mochis, a city on the Pacific coast of north-west Mexico.
He had only just moved there, having been hiding out in the country before then.
Five of Guzmán’s guards were killed in the raid by Mexican marines and he managed to flee, but was caught in a car while leaving town.
Days after his capture, it emerged that the Hollywood actor Sean Penn had interviewed him in a jungle hideaway.
The subsequent interview in Rolling Stone magazine was widely ridiculed, and it was reported – though never formally confirmed – that Mexican authorities found Guzmán by tracking Penn.
Part of the reason for the high security at Guzmán’s trial is the fact he has escaped twice before.
In 2001, he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum security prison while hidden in a laundry basket. He did so with the help of corrupt prison guards.
He then stayed on the run for 13 years before being caught in February 2014.
When he next escaped, in July 2015, he fled via a one-mile (1.5km) tunnel that led directly underneath his cell.
The tunnel had ventilation, lighting and stairs and the exit was hidden by a construction site.
Mexican TV stations later aired footage that showed that guards failed to act when loud hammering was heard from inside Guzmán’s cell.
Former associates, including a one-time lieutenant to Guzmán who pleaded guilty to a trafficking conspiracy in Chicago last week, are expected to testify.
El Chapo’s lawyer told the BBC the list of people called to testify for the prosecution was “slop”.
Guzmán is being held in solitary confinement at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correction Center, the city’s most secure federal prison. But his trial is being held across the East River in Brooklyn. Every time he has been transferred to the courthouse for previous hearings, the Brooklyn Bridge has been shut down.
A motorcade of police cars, armoured and emergency vehicles, as well as officers in tactical gear, transports Guzmán into the courthouse through the garage below ground. US Marshalls have come up with a secret solution to prevent the bridge’s closure and gridlock in lower Manhattan twice a day during the trial, which reportedly includes keeping him either at an undisclosed location in Brooklyn or in special housing at the courthouse during the week.
Security will be ramped up at the courthouse. There will be a heavier than usual police presence, and the building will be swept by bomb-sniffing dogs.
There are also plans in place to protect jurors and witnesses.
The names of witnesses have not been released, and they have been placed in protection programmes.
Jurors will remain anonymous and their addresses and places of employment will be withheld from Guzmán, his lawyers and the media. Jurors will be partially sequestered and will be escorted to and from the court each day by armed US Marshalls.
Guzman’s defence attorneys argued the extra security would create an unfair impression that he is dangerous and might influence the jury.
However, Judge Brian Cogan said the government presented credible reasons for the additional security measures, including the accused’s history of violence and allegations that he murdered, kidnapped or tortured those suspected of assisting law enforcement.