Mexico says Sean Penn’s Meeting Was ‘Essential’ Capturing El Chapo


Mexico’s Attorney General has said that the meeting between Hollywood actor Sean Penn and fugitive cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman had been an “essential” element in his arrest.

The actor interviewed Mexico’s most wanted drug lord in October in northern Durango state, at a meeting organised by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo.

The security forces came close to catching Guzman shortly afterwards.

They finally arrested him on Friday in a raid in which five people died.

Attorney General Arely Gomez said the security forces had been following Guzman’s lawyer, who led them to Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo.

Kate del Castillo had been contacted by Guzman’s lawyers years earlier after she had addressed Guzman in an open letter asking him to stop trafficking in drugs and start “trafficking in love” instead.

Ms Gomez said that following his escape from a maximum-security jail in July, Guzman again contacted del Castillo through his lawyers to ask her to produce a film about his life.

Del Castillo has not commented but in an article for Rolling Stone magazine, Penn said the actress had put him in contact with the fugitive drug lord.

They both then travelled to a remote mountain hideout where Penn proceeded to interview Guzman.

Ms Gomez said that meeting had provided them with important intelligence and helped them track down the fugitive.

“It was an essential element, because we were following [Guzman’s] lawyer, and the lawyer took us to these people and to this meeting,” she told local radio.

Mexican newspaper El Universal published photographs on Monday which suggest Penn and del Castillo were under surveillance by the authorities at the time.

The Associated Press news agency asked Penn if he was worried about the images. He wrote back in an email, saying: “I’ve got nothin’ to hide”.

Final chase

Guzman’s escape in July 2015 – his second from a maximum-security jail – was a major embarrassment for the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

But on Monday, the authorities proudly showed journalists around the house Guzman had been hiding in in Los Mochis.

President Enrique Pena Nieto praised the security forces for the arrest of “the world’s most wanted criminal” in a brief televised speech on Monday.

“With this action, 98 of the 122 most dangerous criminals no longer pose a risk to society,” he said. “We’re going after all of them!”

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