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Drug Lord Located Thanks to Sean Penn Interview
International

Drug Lord Located Thanks to Sean Penn Interview

The recapture of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman took a Hollywood twist when a Mexican official said security forces located the whereabouts of the world’s most-wanted trafficker, thanks to a secret interview with US actor Sean Penn.
Penn’s interview with Guzman, who has twice escaped from Mexican maximum security prisons, appeared late Saturday on the website of Rolling Stone magazine.
It was purportedly held at an undisclosed hideout in Mexico in late 2015, several months before Guzman’s recapture on Friday in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, after six months on the run, AP reported.
In the interview, Guzman defends his work at the head of the world’s biggest drug trafficking organization. When asked if he is to blame for high addiction rates, 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.”
In the article, Penn describes the elaborate security measures he took ahead of the clandestine meeting. But apparently they were not enough.
A Mexican federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to comment on the issue, told AP it was the Penn interview that led authorities to Guzman in a rural part of Durango state in October.
Authorities decided not to open fire on Guzman at the time because he was with two women and child. He was able to escape, but they were able to later track him to a house in Los Mochis where Mexican marines nabbed him after a shootout that left five people dead.
The official said the meeting between Penn and Guzman was held in Tamazula, a community in Durango state that neighbors Sinaloa, home of Guzman’s drug cartel.
On Friday, Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez said that Guzman’s contact with actors and producers for a possible biopic helped give law enforcement a new lead on tracking and capturing the world’s most notorious drug kingpin.
In the Rolling Stone article, Penn wrote that Guzman was interested in having a movie filmed on his life.
There was no immediate response from Penn’s representatives to the Mexican official’s comments.
Earlier Saturday, a federal law enforcement official said Mexico is willing to extradite Guzman to the United States, a sharp reversal from the official position after his last capture in 2014.
Speaking on condition anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, he cautioned that there could be a lengthy wait before US prosecutors can get their hands on Guzman, the most-wanted trafficker who was recaptured Friday after six months on the run: “You have to go through the judicial process and the defense has its elements too.”
Top officials in the party of President Enrique Pena Nieto also floated the idea of extradition, which they had flatly ruled out before Guzman’s embarrassing escape from Mexico’s top maximum security prison on July 11—his second from a Mexican prison.
But even if Mexican officials agree, Guzman’s attorney Juan Pablo Badillo told the Milenio newspaper that the defense already has filed six motions to challenge extradition requests.
Following his capture, the head of the powerful Sinaloa cartel was brought to Mexico City’s airport, frog-marched to a helicopter before news media and flown back to the same prison he had fled.
There were immediately calls for his quick extradition, just as there were after the February 2014 capture of Guzman, who faces drug-trafficking charges in several US states. At the time, Mexico’s government insisted it could handle the man who had already broken out of one maximum-security prison, saying he must pay his debt to Mexican society first.
Then-Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said the extradition would happen only after he finished his sentence in Mexico in “300 or 400 years”.
Then Guzman escaped on July 11 under the noses of guards and prison officials at Mexico’s most secure lockup, slipping out an elaborate tunnel that showed the depth of the country’s corruption while thoroughly embarrassing Pena Nieto’s administration.

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