MIAMI, May 5 (UPI) -- Jury selection was completed under tight security Monday in the federal trial of Fabio Ochoa, allegedly one of the founders of the infamous Medellin cocaine cartel.
More than a dozen U.S. marshals from out of town patrolled the Miami courtroom and the hallways. Nobody -- including the prosecution and defense teams -- will be told the names of the 12 jurors.
Panel members will be hauled to and from the federal courthouse in vans with heavily tinted windows, but they will not be sequestered.
Ochoa is the highest profile drug defendant to be tried in the United States since Colombia resumed extraditions six years ago.
It was considered a major victory for federal agents and prosecutors when he was indicted, arrested and extradited.
Ochoa, 45, was one of 43 suspected drug traffickers indicted by Operation Millennium and indicted in 1999 in south Florida.
Ochoa is only one of two remaining defendants. Of the remainder, seven remain at large and 34 have pleaded guilty. The other defendant awaiting trial is considered a minor figure.
Ochoa, two older brothers and Pablo Escobar were the leaders of the Medellin cartel that operated above the law in Colombia from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
It ended when Escobar was shot and killed by police and the Ochoas turned themselves in to Colombian authorities under an agreement that guaranteed they would not be extradited to the United States if they would plead guilty to minor charges.
Fabio Ochoa served less than six years and then was released. But U.S. prosecutors said he went right back into the cocaine business in 1996 and was indicted three years later on new charges.
His brothers were not indicted.
Prosecutors will contend he was a consultant to Alejandro Bernal, who was running the operation at the time. Bernal was one of those extradited and has pleaded guilty. He is expected to join several drug dealers who will testify against Ochoa.
Ochoa and his attorney, the celebrated Roy Black of Miami, maintains he is innocent. His family established a Web site and erected billboards in Colombia two years ago that said: "Yesterday I made a mistake. Today I am innocent."
Under terms of the extradition agreement, the prosecution is not allowed to use evidence involving anything that happened before his jail term in Colombia.
Ochoa has spent the last two years in solitary confinement, and if he is convicted, the maximum penalty is life in prison.
Opening statements are set for Wednesday before U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, and the trial is expected to last two months.