‘El Chapo,’ Mexican Drug Lord, Had Top-Secret Meeting With Sean Penn Before His Arrest

Sean Penn
Sean Penn attends the 5th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala on January 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.  Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Didn’t see that one coming! Sean Penn had a top-secret meeting and interview with Mexican drug lord El Chapo back in October 2015, when the marked man was on the run, a newly released Rolling Stone interview reveals.

According to the interview, Penn, 55, sat down to chat with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last fall after he made contact with the drug kingpin through Mexican actress Kate del Castillo.

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“At four years old, in ’64, I was digging for imaginary treasures, unneeded, in my parents’ middle-class American backyard while he was hand-drawing fantasy pesos that, if real, might be the only path for he and his family to dream beyond peasant farming,” Penn wrote in the far-reaching piece. “And while I was surfing the waves of Malibu at age nine, he was already working in the marijuana and poppy fields of the remote mountains of Sinaloa, Mexico. Today, he runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar.”

At one point in the interview, Guzman tells Penn that he supplies “more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world,” adding that he owns “a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

Sean Penn, El Chapo
Photograph Courtesy of Sean Penn for Rolling Stone

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But, when asked whether he thinks he is to blame for the high drug addiction rates around the world, Guzman responds honestly, “No, that is false, because the day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all.”

The pair’s sit-down chat lasted seven hours, with del Castillo acting as the translator, and was held in an undisclosed hideout that Penn took many security measures to keep secret.

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A Mexican federal law enforcement official later told the Associated Press that Penn’s interview was what eventually led authorities straight to Guzman. (The drug lord was arrested on Friday, January 8, six months after he escaped a maximum security prison.)  

While in prison, Guzman had reportedly been approached by various producers to portray his life story; in the end, his Hollywood ambitions were what led to his recapture.

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