Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo, is a Mexican drug kingpin facing trial in a Brooklyn court for crimes, including murder, associated with his criminal dealings. Because of his penchant for escaping prison- twice from maximum security facilities in Mexico- the justice system chose to house him in New York’s most secure federal jail, the Metropolitan Correctional Center, in Manhattan. Unfortunately for commuters, all his hearings and his trial take place at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
Why is it a problem? Whenever he travels from prison to courthouse and back, the bridge is closed to regular traffic and a parade of police in a motorcade of armored cars escort El Chapo to and from his destinations, causing nightmarish traffic for New York motorists. So far this happens only now and then, but the fear is that when El Chapo’s trial begins in earnest in November, the closures will be twice a day, every day, except for weekends. This is something commuters, and El Chapo’s lawyers, are worried about.
Guzmán’s lawyers have argued that shutting down the bridge, a major traffic artery in New York, will prejudice potential jurors against their client. They would like to see some other arrangements made, as would many New Yorkers. The lawyers suggested moving the trial to Manhattan, or even Philadelphia as a way to avoid causing traffic.
Judge Brian M. Cogan said that although he decided to keep the trial in Brooklyn, he does recognize the problem, and has been working on a solution with US Marshals. Some of the ideas being tossed around are: transporting El Chapo by helicopter or boat; housing him in Brooklyn near the court; and others. As of now, now concrete suggestions have been announced.