Mexico says Sean Penn interview helped catch El Chapo

Rolling Stone magazine publishes interview conducted late last year as Mexico weighs drug kingpin’s extradition to US.

A secret interview given by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the recaptured Mexican drug kingpin, to American actor Sean Penn helped authorities locate his whereabouts, according to a Mexican law-enforcement official.

The interview between Guzman and Penn, purportedly held in late 2015 in a hideout in Mexico, appeared on Saturday on the website of Rolling Stone magazine.

An anonymous Mexican official said it was the Penn interview that led authorities to Guzman in a rural part of Durango state in October. 

News of Penn’s secret meeting came as Mexican officials weighed the possibility of extraditing Guzman to the US, something they had ruled out earlier.

Authorities aborted an earlier raid because Guzman was with two women and a child. But they were able to track him to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, where he was captured on Friday.

He was arrested after a shootout in Los Mochis, six months after he escaped Mexico’s most secure prison. Five people were killed during the operation that caught Guzman, who has twice escaped from prison.

Arely Gomez, Mexico attorney general, said on Friday that Guzman’s contact with actors and producers for a possible biopic helped give law enforcement a new lead.

In the Rolling Stone’s interview, when Penn asks Guzman about whether he is responsible for the high level of drug addiction in the world, he responds: “No, that is false, because the day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all. Drug trafficking? That’s false.”

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Rolling Stone says the meeting was brokered by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo.

Asked about who is to blame for drug trafficking, Guzman says: “If there was no consumption, there would be no sales. It is true that consumption, day after day, becomes bigger and bigger. So it sells and sells.”

Earlier on Saturday, a federal law-enforcement official said that Mexico was willing to extradite Guzman to the US – a sharp reversal from the official position after his last capture in 2014.

“Mexico is ready. There are plans to cooperate with the US,” said the Mexican official, who spoke on condition anonymity because he was not authorised to comment.

Top officials in the party of President Enrique Pena Nieto also floated the idea of extradition.

“He has a lot of outstanding debts to pay in Mexico, but if it’s necessary, he can pay them in other places,” said Manlio Fabio Beltrones, president of Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Source: News Agencies