Drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ held secret meeting with actor Sean Penn

Posted at 3:49 PM, Jan 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-10 15:49:25-05

(CNN) — Three months after drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped from prison, he held a secret meeting with actor Sean Penn in a mountainous Mexican jungle, Rolling Stone reported. The meeting was followed by an interview, conducted via messaging and video.

Mexican forces arrested Guzman on Friday after a shootout that ended his freedom following his brazen prison escape in July.

In Penn’s article, published in Rolling Stone on Saturday, Guzman touted his drug trade, saying he “supplies more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world.”

Penn met Guzman in person in October, a sit-down meeting that started with a warm hug and lasted seven hours.

“He pulls me into a ‘compadre’ hug, looks me in the eyes and speaks a lengthy greeting in Spanish too fast for my ears,” Penn wrote of their first encounter.

During that meeting, the drug lord agreed to an interview at a later time, Rolling Stone reported. A face-to-face interview was not possible, but Penn interviewed Guzman through messaging and video.

Now, Mexican authorities want to question Penn and actress Kate del Castillo about Penn’s meeting in Mexico, which was brokered by del Castillo, a senior Mexican law enforcement official told CNN. Specifically, authorities want to learn more about the location where the meeting took place, the source said.

Tequila and pressed jeans

The article describes a man on the run who appeared anything but, as he sipped tequila in a “casual patterned silk shirt and pressed black jeans.”

His face beaming and looking “remarkably well-groomed” for a prison escapee, Penn said, Guzman bragged about the intricate nature of his drug empire, the Sinaloa cartel.

“I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” he told Penn.

Well-planned escape

The interview added another twist to the surreal life of the two-time prison escapee. And the latest escape in July, Guzman told Penn, was a well-planned operation.

During that escape, Guzman vanished through a hole in his shower and into a tunnel, then to a small plane that flew him to freedom, Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez said

The engineers who built the tunnel were flown to Germany for specialized training, Penn said Guzman told him. A motorcycle on rails inside the tunnel was adjusted to run in an environment with limited oxygen, he said.

While Penn does not give the specific location of the interview, he said it was conducted in Mexico.

Guzman was recaptured early Friday when the Mexican navy raided a home in the coastal city of Los Mochis, where he was protected by many local residents who revered him as a modern Robin Hood.

Not blindfolded

In the article, Penn mused about the fact that he was not blindfolded while going to meet the drug lord.

But he also highlighted the extraordinary measures taken to protect Guzman, including flying Penn and his team aboard a plane that had a device that jams radar and ensuring they did not have their phones.

That night, after a few hours of talking, Guzman and his protectors strapped on body armor and brought out the weapons.

Penn said the interview was planned by del Castillo, a Mexican actress who supported Guzman. The drug lord wanted the actress’s help in spearheading a movie project about his life.

Del Castillo has not commented since the publication of the article.

His thoughts on Donald Trump

Penn said he and Guzman discussed various topics, including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom Guzman referred to as “mi amigo.” Trump has been highly critical of illegal migration of Mexicans to the U.S.

Guzman also defended his drug business, saying the Mexican economy gave him no choice.

On the topic of his own mortality, he said he hoped to die of “natural causes” — not in a shootout.

Pitching a movie

The tracking of cell phones and electronic exchanges among people close to Guzman was critical in his recapture, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials.

Mexican authorities said they captured Guzman partly because he or his representatives contacted filmmakers and actors about making his biopic.

It’s unclear whether Penn’s interview helped in his recapture.

Back to the same prison

After six months on the run, Guzman is now back in the same maximum security prison from which he escaped, a Mexican law enforcement official said.

And the Sinaloa cartel leader may be extradited to the United States, where he faces drug trafficking charges.

The Mexican attorney general said extradition proceedings are set to begin, but she did not say when. The United States had sought his extradition in June before he escaped, Gomez said. Guzman is included in at least seven drug-related indictments in various U.S. jurisdictions.

Guzman’s lawyers have filed documents to fight extradition.

History of prison escapes

Guzman’s July prison escape — his second in 14 years — embarrassed the Mexican government.

Authorities first arrested Guzman in Guatemala in 1993 and extradited him to Mexico. After his conviction, he escaped from a maximum security prison in 2001, using a laundry cart, and evaded Mexican authorities for years.

His freedom ended in 2014, when he was arrested in the Mexican resort town of Mazatlan.

In the latest hunt for Guzman, there were reported sightings and near-misses.

In October, the same month Penn interviewed him, authorities said they almost caught him but he slipped away.

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