Lawyer Christian Hoey says an FBI drug probe led to a Muslim cleric who knew then-Mayor John Street. The FBI installed a listening device in Street's office, but the mayor was never charged and denied wrongdoing.
Hoey represents convicted kingpin Kaboni Savage, now charged with leading a cocaine trafficking enterprise that killed 12 people.
Hoey says the cleric, Shamsud din-Ali, mediated disputes among city drug dealers, from home invasions to unreported kidnappings.
His opening statements Monday seemed designed to show Savage did not control the city's cocaine enterprise.
Savage faces the death penalty if convicted of racketeering and murder.
The cleric is now in prison for government fraud.