'El Chapo' not a threat to any jurors, lawyer says

Notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán would not be a threat to any jurors during his upcoming federal court trial, his defense lawyer said.

Prosecutors have asked Brooklyn Federal Court Justice Brian Cogan to impanel an anonymous jury and provide members with armed guards to and from a secure location during the months-long trial that’s expected to begin in September.

However, giving jurors special protections “sends the message to each juror that he or she needs to be protected from Mr. Guzmán. From there, members of the jury could infer that Mr. Guzmán is both dangerous and guilty,” defense attorney A. Eduardo Balarezo wrote in a recently filed motion.

FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2017 file photo provided U.S. law enforcement, authorities escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, center, from a plane to a waiting caravan of SUVs at Long Island MacArthur Airport, in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. U.S. prosecutors and lawyers for infamous drug lord Guzman are sparring over his tough jail conditions. The government responded in court papers Tuesday, March 21, 2017, by saying the restrictions are appropriate for someone known for escaping twice from prison in Mexico. (U.S. law enforcement via AP, File)

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s lawyer said special protections for jurors burdens his client’s presumption of innocence.  (AP)

The motion added: “Such an order would unduly burden Mr. Guzman’s presumption of innocence, impair his ability to conduct meaningful voir dire (examination of potential jurors) and create the extremely unfair impression that he is a dangerous person from whom the jury must be protected.”

According to the New York Post, the prosecution motion cited the drug kingpin’s long history of violence and instances in which he is believed to have tried killing past witnesses.

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The Sinaloa Cartel leader faces a rash of charges, including criminal enterprise and international cocaine trafficking.

Balarezo reportedly said the government is basing its fears on mere allegations of Guzmán’s violent behavior, based on “untested and suspect statements from cooperators seeking to reduce their own sentences.”

His lawyer also suggested jurors names just could be kept from the kingpin, and media could be barred from reporting their identities.

The judge has yet to rule on the motion.