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Amid traffic worries, judge says no to moving El Chapo’s trial from Brooklyn

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman's lawyers failed to persuade a judge to move his trial to Manhattan from Brooklyn. They argued intense security for the trial, including shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge to transport him, would bias the public and hurt his chances for a fair trial. | AP

NEW YORK — A federal judge has denied a request by notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to move his trial as a way to alleviate the public spectacle created by the intense security measures being used to transport him to court.

The measures have included shutting down the Brooklyn Bridge for a police motorcade to take Guzman from a high-security jail in Manhattan to a Brooklyn courthouse where he’s due to go on trial this year.

At a hearing Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan rejected arguments by lawyers for Guzman that the security drill could hurt his chances for a fair trial by giving the public the impression he’s already guilty.

The judge said he wouldn’t publicly explain why he denied the request to move the case to Manhattan. He said some of the logistical concerns would be addressed but didn’t go into specifics.

Guzman, who was extradited to the United States last year, has pleaded not guilty to charges that his Sinaloa cartel laundered billions of dollars and oversaw a ruthless campaign of killings and kidnappings. He faces life in prison if convicted at a trial that’s set to start in November and could last several weeks.

Authorities have said the tight security for Guzman is justified, noting that he has twice escaped from prison in Mexico. The second time was via a mile-long long) tunnel dug to the shower in his cell.

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