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30 May 2023

Sean Penn secretly met Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' in his hideout

Actor Sean Penn was due to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at this year's Dubai Film Festival (AFP/GETTY)

By Reuters

In a surprising development, Rolling Stone has published the first-ever interview with fugitive Mexican drug lord Joaquin Guzman, known as 'El Chapo,' conducted by none other than Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn.

Guzman, who was captured and returned to prison Friday, was said to have been captured when he reached out to producers and actors about making a biopic of his life.

The interview published Saturday evening was conducted in October while the drug lord was on the run from Mexican and U.S. authorities. Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, star of soap opera 'La Reina del Sur,' conducted the interview with Penn. It was arranged through a producer he calls Espinoza in the article.

"I don't want to be portrayed as a nun," El Chapo tells Penn as the two dined over tacos and tequila.

Rolling Stone also published a two-minute video of the exclusive interview.

After traveling to the secret location in SUVs, Penn said they were surrounded by '30 to 35' armed guards, with an additional hundred soldiers in a nearby field.

None of El Chapo's soldiers or associates spoke in English, hence the translator.

Though El Chapo formerly denied being a drug dealer, he told the actor, "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats."

Chapo goes on to admit that he once drug kingpin Pablo Escobar: "Yes, I met him once at his house. Big house."

When asked about GOP candidate Donald Trump, he gave a sarcastic, 'Mi amigo!'

Using a gonzo-style approach, Penn details his secret trip to the jungle of Mexico that originated with a secret meeting in New York and, ends, oddly, with the actor passing gas in front of Chapo.

The Rolling Stone article also provides details of the drug lord's escape from prison in July 2015.

Penn explained his interest in the outlaw, saying in the article, "I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men. But I'm in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true."

"I took some comfort in a unique aspect of El Chapo's reputation among the heads of drug cartels in Mexico: that, unlike many of his counterparts who engage in gratuitous kidnapping and murder, El Chapo is a businessman first, and only resorts to violence when he deems it advantageous to himself or his business interests," he continues.

"As an American citizen, I'm drawn to explore what may be inconsistent with the portrayals our government and media brand upon their declared enemies. Not since Osama bin Laden has the pursuit of a fugitive so occupied the public imagination. But unlike bin Laden, who had posed the ludicrous premise that a country's entire population is defined by - and therefore complicit in - its leadership's policies, with the world's most wanted drug lord, are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize? We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution's ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics."