If convicted, Guzman faces life in prison. "I don't know why it's called the El Chapo, but it's delicious", he added to laughter from Guzman's lawyer and an unimpressed defendant. Prosecutors have also sought to hide the identity of cooperating witnesses out of concerns the cartel could seek retribution, while a judge is keeping the jury anonymous to protect them from intimidation.
Guzman was extradited to the United States from Mexico on January 19, 2017, after escaping twice from Mexican prisons before being captured again. In the United States, opioid addiction has spiraled into an epidemic.
Guzman pleads not guilty, but the government has presented so much evidence - more than 300,000 pages and at least 117,000 recordings - that the defence complains they haven't had time to review it all.
El Chapo notoriously escaped from confinement in Mexico twice, which is in part the reason for the extreme security measures surrounding his confinement and extra measures during any of his transportation.
Guzman, 61, formerly led the Sinaloa Cartel, named after its base in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.More news: Nigeria's army cites Trump to justify shooting Shia protesters
U.S. district court judge Brian Cogan will preside over the process behind closed doors.
Opening arguments are scheduled to start on November 13, after a week set aside for jury selection, held behind closed doors with only a select "pool" of reporters admitted under the tightest security reserved for the most unsafe defendants. 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. 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 Sinaloa cartel that Guzman founded in 1989 is still hugely powerful and his co-defendant Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada remains at large. Heroy estimates the trial will cost USA taxpayer "more than $50 million", a price tag that includes protection programs for at least some of the several hundred witnesses expected to testify. Instead, she has attended nearly all his pretrial hearings, waving and blowing him kisses from the gallery.
Mexican authorities captured Guzman and an associate in January 2016 fleeing a raid on a house where he had been staying in northwest Mexico. He was rearrested in 2014 only to escape 14 months later from a tunnel dug into the prison.
This time, Mexico chose to wash their hands of him and put him on a plane.