The almost-mythical criminal pedigree of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who was extradited in 2017 to face USA drug conspiracy charges, has sparked security concerns at his upcoming New York City trial that at times have drawn as much attention as the case's sensational allegations.
Potential jurors, including a Michael Jackson impersonator, arrived to court to see it surrounded by heavily armed guards and bomb sniffing dogs that had staged a perimeter.
His beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was barred from the selection process as are all members of the public to protect jurors from any threat. He was known internationally as the head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.
The judge also agreed with prosecutors that the jury for the case should be kept anonymous, a measure typical in terrorism or mob cases where jury intimidation is a concern.
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.
Opening statements are scheduled to begin on November 13.
The judge struck two women after they raised security concerns about presiding over the proceedings, expected to cost millions and turn into the most expensive federal trial in United States history.
After two massive prison breaks by El Chapo in Mexico, authorities in the United States are taking every precaution to keep their notorious prisoner behind bars. Another was sent home after she said she couldn't be impartial, saying, "I feel very bad about drugs".
A moment of levity came when one potential juror was asked about a deli near his workplace stocking a sandwich called "El Chapo".
The jury will determine whether Guzman - the father of two whose nickname means "shorty" as he is only 5ft 2ins tall - is guilty or not of 11 trafficking, firearms and money laundering charges. As a reason, the judge cited prosecutors" contention that Guzman's cartel "employs "sicarios, ' or hit men, who carried out hundreds of acts of violence, including murders, assaults and kidnappings".
The accused killer drug boss did not make eye contact with the prospective jurors, even though they were seated no more than 10 feet away from the leader of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel during questioning. "I think this is indicative of the fact that the Sinaloa cartel has probably infiltrated the drug industry in our country", said PNP spokesman Senior Supt.
It is alleged that from 1989 to 2014, the cartel smuggled at least 340,892 pounds (154,626 kilograms) of cocaine into the USA, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, raking in $14bn (£11bn).
Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017 on an indictment that detailed his alleged reign over a merciless trafficking organization controlled through murder and torture. He spends 23 hours a day in his cell.