In the nationwide sweepstakes among federal jurisdictions to put Mexican drug kingpin and escape artist Joaquin `"El Chapo" Guzman on trial, the place currently leading the pack is far from the border: Brooklyn.
Justice Department officials in Washington still aren't commenting on the closely watched decision involving seven prosecutor's offices that have indicted Guzman on drug conspiracy and other charges over the past two decades.
But two law enforcement officials familiar with the process told The Associated Press that it's likely that if transferred from Mexican to U.S. custody in coming months, Guzman would be sent to the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the decision-making process.
Brooklyn, an office once run by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, has long been rumored to be the front-runner while Guzman has been vigorously fighting extradition, an effort that could drag out indefinitely.
But wherever he ends up in United States, Guzman is certain to cause a media frenzy and present a security challenge that has bedeviled Mexican authorities.
Last year, the boss of the cutthroat Sinaloa cartel escaped prison for a second time _ using a mile-long tunnel and help from crooked guards _ and spent several months on the run before being recaptured in January after a bloody shootout in the coastal town of Los Mochis.
His apprehension, along with Mexican authorities' decision to transfer him to a jail just across the border from El Paso in Ciudad Juarez, renewed speculation about a possible U.S. prosecution in one of the seven districts _ Brooklyn, Manhattan, Chicago, Miami, San Diego, El Paso and New Hampshire.
U.S. indictments in those cities accuse him of overseeing a drug empire that poisoned American streets by smuggling countless tons of cocaine, heroin and marijuana via tunnels or secret compartments in cars, trucks and rail cars.