El Chapo prosecutors object to defense opening statement

Judge rebukes El Chapo's lawyer for opening statement accusing Mexican presidents of taking bribes

Judge rebukes El Chapo's lawyer for opening statement accusing Mexican presidents of taking bribes

Guzman, he alleged in his opening statements, had his "own private army" of hundreds of armed men, as well as his own diamond-encrusted pistol branded with his initials and a gold-plated AK-47. "That is what this case is about", Fels said.

Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known as El Chapo, faces life in prison if found guilty after an anticipated four-month trial.

Zambada said for most of the 2000s, his brother, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, and Guzman were considered the top leaders of the Sianola cartel as it imported large shipments of Colombian cocaine by land, sea and air to Mexico before using various means to get it to the US market.

Mr Bieth says 51-year-old El Chapo is facing multiple charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

"Mr. Guzman was somebody who enjoyed the publicity", Lichtman said. "But somehow they can't figure out where he is".

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon.

In a tweet, a spokesman for current President Enrique Pena Nieto called the sensational allegation "completely false and defamatory".

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, prosecutors said the lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, tried improperly to sway the jury by arguing that Guzman had been selectively targeted for prosecution, an argument the court had barred him from making.

"Your opening statement handed out a promissory note that your case is not going to cash", the judge said, calling Lichtman's opening misleading.

Federal prosecutors say as leader of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman, 61, directed massive shipments of heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines to the US.

Emma Coronel, centre, the wife of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman leaves court after opening arguments in the trial of the Mexican drug lord.

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Retired U.S. Customs Agent Carlos Salazar, the trial's first witness, told jurors agents were surprised at how sophisticated the tunnel was, saying it contained equipment that might be found in a vehicle fix shop.

Salazar described raids carried out on both sides of the border in May 1990.

The tunnel was half the length of a football field and large enough that a 5-foot-8-inch man barely had to lower his head to walk through it. It was equipped with electric lights, an industrial-sized weigh scale and a hydraulic system to lift away flooring that was covered by a pool table.

As his business flourished using the tunnels, trains, planes and vessels, Guzman began taking aim at rivals in the early 1990s, leading to bloody wars.

He detailed one incident in 1994 when smugglers deliberately sank a fishing boat loaded with a whopping 20 tons of cocaine en route from Colombia to Mexico, believing they were being followed by authorities.

In this courtroom sketch, El Chapo sits next to his defence attorney Eduardo Balazero.

Prosecutors said Guzman amassed billions of dollars for smuggling cocaine from Colombia to the United States. They contend that he ordered or committed at least 33 homicides.

In his openings, which are expected to continue Wednesday, one of Guzman's lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman, claimed that his client was the victim of a vast conspiracy orchestrated to "scapegoat" the accused kingpin and allow the drug trade in Mexico to go on uninterrupted.

In his opening statement Tuesday, Lichtman told jurors that US prosecutors had dreamed "for decades" of convicting Guzman, adding "the world is focusing on this mythical El Chapo figure". "The amount of public attention has been extraordinary".

He is being transported to and from the trial in an armoured caravan that closes the Brooklyn Bridge and the courthouse was bristling with security.

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