Joaquin Guzman’s escape from prison may have made headlines but it’s his recent arrest that has everyone talking. Guzman, the Mexican drug lord more famously known as “El Chapo”, first captured everyone’s attention by escaping through a tunnel in the shower floor of the Altiplano Federal Prison last July. On Friday, Mexican officials announced that they had finally captured the fugitive following a shootout in Los Mochis, a northern coastal city in Sinaloa state. More surprising, however, was how law enforcement was able to finally track him down: According to authorities, it was actor Sean Penn’s Rolling Stone interview with El Chapo that may have led to the kingpin’s arrest.
The interview, which was published on Saturday, highlighted Penn’s conversations with the notorious drug lord during a visit to an undisclosed mountaintop location last year (while Guzman was still on the run), as well as brief phone call interviews Penn conducted with Guzman over the phone in the months following his initial sit-down. In the interview, Guzman regaled Penn with stories from his childhood, explaining that he was not a violent person and further insisting that his organization was not a cartel. “[…] Do I start trouble? Never,” Guzman claimed. “… People who dedicate their lives to this activity do not depend on me.”
In the months following the interview, which Penn said was facilitated by Mexican actress and El Chapo sympathizer Kate del Castillo, who once played a cartel leader herself in the soap opera La Reina del Sur, Guzman’s situation began to sour. On Jan. 8, his luck reached its tipping point when Mexican Special Forces raided the home in which he had been hiding out, taking him into custody for a third time.
So were the rumors true? Did Penn’s Rolling Stone interview contribute in some way to Guzman’s arrest, and if so, how much? According to The New York Times, that answer isn’t so cut and dry.
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Image: Day Donaldson