Sean Penn's interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of the Sinaloa cartel, one held while he was a fugitive after escaping from a Mexican prison, has reportedly sparked an investigation.
Mexican government officials told ABC News that Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who allegedly helped arrange the October interview between the two men, are now under investigation.
In the interview, “El Chapo Speaks,” published Jan. 9 in Rolling Stone magazine, Penn details how he came to secretly meet with the “most wanted man in the world.”
Penn claims the interview was fueled by El Chapo’s desire to see “the story of his life told on film.”
“It...occurs to me all the risks that are being taken by El Chapo in receiving us,” Penn writes. “We had not been blindfolded, and any experienced traveler might have been able to collect a series of triangulated landmarks to re-navigate the journey. But through his faith in Kate, whom he'd only ever known through letters or BBM, are we enjoying an unusual trust.”
It is believed Penn’s meeting with El Chapo helped authorities capture the fugitive, but the U.S. Department of Justice has declined to comment on the story.
During the interview, El Chapo asks Penn if people in the United States know about him, of which he answers “Oh yeah.”
The drug lord also questions Penn about the movie business and how it works, but he is “unimpressed with its financial yield.”
“The P&L high side doesn't add up to the downside risk for him. He suggests to us that we consider switching our career paths to the oil business,” Penn writes.
If his funds were not illicit, and therefore restricting of his investment opportunities, El Chapo says he would “aspire to the energy sector.”
The interview soon moves along to another business: drugs.
"I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” El Chapo tells Penn.
Penn says he was entirely unapologetic.
The subject of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is raised by Penn, as rumor-has-it that El Chapo put a $100 million bounty on the businessman’s head.
“Ah! Mi amigo!” El Chapo responds.
In business, Penn soon discovers, El Chapo finds everyone is easy to deal with.
“‘Of all the countries and cultures with whom you do business, which is the most difficult?’ Smiling, he shakes his head and says an unequivocal "None." There is no politician who could answer the same question so clearly or successfully, but then again, the challenges are quite different for a global power broker who simply removes any obstacle to "difficulties,” Penn writes.
As the interview concludes, Penn writes that he and El Chapo agreed to meet again in eight days for a formal interview.
That interview never happened, as the DEA was allegedly aware of Penn’s meeting with El Chapo and authorities were closing in on the fugitive.
Penn did receive a recorded interview from El Chapo, where he answered questions sent to him by the actor.
El Chapo was captured by Mexican authorities on Jan. 8; they credit Penn’s interview as leading them to the drug lord.
“He established communication with actors and producers, which has formed a new line of investigation,” Mexican Atty. Gen. Arely Gomez said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The Mexican government has now begun extradition proceedings that would send El Chapo to the United States to be prosecuted.
The U.S. government has made two formal extradition requests for crimes including murder, money laundering, and arms possession.
“Guzman...and his lawyers now have three days to file objections and 20 more days to prove them,” a statement from the Mexican government said.
El Chapo’s lawyer, Juan Pablo Badillo, said the challenge to the extradition request has already been made.
“Damn federales! They got us,” El Chapo allegedly exclaimed upon capture.