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INTERNATIONAL

Kate del Castillo linked to drug trafficker

She helped actor Sean Penn get an interview with  Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. 

Spanish version

Temas:

It took a number of years, but Mexican actress Kate del Castillo facilitated a Rolling Stone interview between U.S. actor Sean Penn, herself and notorious drug lord El Chapo, helping to end his time on the run.

The actress, known for her television portrayal of a female drug lord, was first contacted by the cartel leader in 2012 after she wrote a sugar-coated tweet about the then-escaped convict, whose real name is Joaquin Guzman.

She tweeted that Guzman should start "trafficking with love."

He contacted her again after his arrest in February 2014, when "gringos were scrambling to tell his story," Penn wrote in an article for Rolling Stone magazine, published late Saturday.

Penn's first meeting with Guzman late last October was arranged through del Castillo,

"He was interested in seeing the story of his life told on film, but would entrust its telling only to Kate," Penn wrote.

Penn described an elaborate travel itinerary of private planes and a seven-hour ride through mountainous jungle in a two-truck convoy.

They were never blindfolded along the way. They spent seven hours eating and drinking with the kingpin until he went off with his men at 4 a.m. and Penn and company went to sleep.

Penn asked for a photo shaking Guzman's hand to prove to his editors that he actually saw him. An M16 was on the couch opposite them, Penn wrote.

Penn said he received credible information that the DEA was on the trail of the actors, as raids intensified after their first meeting. During their initial encounter, he asked Guzman for a formal interview that was supposed to happen a week later. But with the pressure of federal forces, Guzman instead videotaped his response to Penn's questions and sent it to Del Castillo.

The recently captured drug lord was unapologetic in the video for running one of the world's biggest drug trafficking organizations.

Guzman said in the interview that he entered the drug trade at age 15 because there was no other way to survive. "The only way to have money to buy food, to survive, is to grow poppy, marijuana, and at that age, I began to grow it, to cultivate it and to sell it. That is what I can tell you."

The interview was conducted while the world's most-wanted drug cartel leader was on the lam after escaping through an elaborate tunnel from Mexico's maximum security prison in July.

Guzman was recaptured Friday in the city of Los Mochis in his home state of Sinaloa after a shootout that killed five of his associates and wounded one marine.

A Mexican law enforcement official said Saturday that the interview in the remote community of Tamazula in the northern state of Durango helped authorities track the whereabouts of the drug lord, who earns millions shipping tons of cocaine and manufacturing and transporting methamphetamine and heroin to world markets, the largest in the U.S. market.

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