Sean Penn's meet with Mexico drug kingpin led to capture

January 10, 2016, 7:46pm

AFP on News24
Photo: AFP

Mexico City - US actor Sean Penn interviewed Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman three months before the Mexican drug lord's capture this week, Rolling Stone magazine revealed on Saturday, a meeting that helped authorities track down the kingpin.

The US rock magazine published a picture showing Penn in a black shirt shaking hands with the moustachioed Sinaloa drug cartel leader, who is in a blue shirt, on October 2.

Penn writes that the 58-year-old Guzman gave him a big hug when they met at a Mexican jungle clearing and had a seven-hour sitdown followed by phone and video interviews.

"I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world," Guzman told Penn in a stunning admission of his criminal enterprise over sips of tequila.

"I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats," Guzman said in the meeting, which Mexican actress Kate del Castillo helped to arrange.

A Mexican federal official told AFP that authorities "had knowledge of this meeting" and that it helped lead to Friday's recapture of the world's most wanted man in his northwestern home state of Sinaloa.

Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez said on Friday that Guzman had met with unnamed actors and producers in the hope of making a biopic about himself.

Rolling Stone also published a video showing Guzman without a moustache, talking about why he decided to go into drug trafficking after the age of 15 because there were "no job opportunities."

"Unfortunately, where I grew up, there was and there is no other way to survive," Guzman said.

Asked if he feels responsible for the high level of addictions in the world, he said: "It's false. The day that I don't exist, it won't reduce drug trafficking."

Extradition bid

The Rolling Stone interview emerged after Mexican prosecutors announced that they would seek Guzman's extradition to the United States, a reversal from President Enrique Pena Nieto's refusal to send him across the border.

The attorney general's office said it received two US extradition requests last year on a slew of charges, including drug trafficking and murder, and that it later obtained arrest warrants to ship him across the border.

"With Guzman Loera's recapture, the respective extradition proceedings will have to start," the office said in a statement.

It did not indicate when the hearings would start and noted that Guzman's lawyers could seek appeals.

One of Guzman's attorneys, Juan Pablo Badillo, vowed to take the case up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"He shouldn't be extradited because Mexico has a fair Constitution," Badillo told reporters outside the Altiplano prison near Mexico City, where Guzman was sent following his arrest.

It was from that prison that Guzman escaped on July 11, sneaking into a hole in his cell's shower that led to a 1.5km tunnel outside the prison.

A Mexican federal official defended the decision to send Guzman back to Altiplano, saying measures were taken to improve security, including the installation of metal rods under the floor of prison cells.

Deadly raid

The world's most wanted drug baron was arrested after a deadly military raid on a house early on Friday in Los Mochis, a coastal city in his native northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Five suspects died and one marine wounded. Six others were detained in the operation.

"When we had the courage, we looked out the window and saw the soldiers on the ground firing at the garage door until they opened it," said a neighbor.

Guzman and his security chief fled through the city's drainage system.

The wanted men came out of a manhole and stole a car, but they were captured on a road and taken to a motel, where Guzman was pictured seated on a bed, wearing a dirty sleeveless shirt - an ignominious end for a kingpin whose billionaire drug business reaches as far as Asia and Europe.

In the Rolling Stone video interview, Guzman is asked about the belief that Mexican authorities want to kill him instead of taking him alive.

He responds: "No, I think that if they find me they will arrest me. Of course."