Joaquin Guzman Loera, the infamous drug lord known as El Chapo, waved to his wife, who was sitting in the courtroom for the first day of his trial.
Then, through a translator, El Chapo heard the case against him. In opening arguments, federal prosecutor Alan Fels told the jury, "This case is about drugs, money, violence, prison escapes, a vast global narcotics empire."
Guzman, who was extradited to the U.S. nearly two years ago, faces a slew of federal charges for allegedly heading the Sinaloa drug cartel.
The prosecution told jurors that for 25 years, Guzman sent massive quantities of drugs to the United States through underground tunnels, fishing boats, tractor trailers, airplanes and even a submarine.
The government said tons of drugs were transported and that Guzman could receive as much as $10 million for just one shipment. They called El Chapo, sometimes referred to as "El Jefe," a hands-on boss who would order murders or carry them out himself.
"He has his own private army, responsible for his protection and movement," Fels said.
Fels also said it was those workers who helped him escape from Mexican prisons twice.
But Guzman's defense lawyer, Jeffrey Litchman, said the prison escapes only added to the myth of El Chapo.
Lichtman described Guzman as a "mythical, elusive figure," "larger than life" and "public enemy number one," but ultimately a man who was framed by corrupt Mexican officials. Litchman said those corrupt Mexican officials made Guzman a scapegoat to cover up their own illegal behavior, including their supposed murder of a Catholic cardinal, and their acceptance of bribes from the real leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, who Lichtman argued is not Guzman.
The defense will continue its opening arguments on Wednesday. After that, the prosecution plans to present videos, voice recordings, and text messages to prove its case against the drug kingpin.
The trial is expected to last up to four weeks.