The story of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán is the gift that keeps on giving to journalists and storytellers around the world, despite his secretive nature which has seen him shun the media throughout his kingpin career.
Leader of the largest international drug cartel, ever. Responsible for half of all the cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, and marijuana in the U.S. market. Two arrests, two daring prison escapes, and a merciless reputation. It’s the stuff that legends are made of. In Mexico, Guzman is a legend. And if he wans’t one in the United States already, he will be now.
Rolling Stone article raises eyebrows
On Saturday, Rolling Stone published a lengthy feature story on El Chapo just one day after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that he had been apprehended after a shootout with Mexican marines in the city of Los Mochis, in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa. This, seven months after he escaped one of the most sophisticated prison escapes the world has ever seen, Guzman escaped from Mexico’s highest-security prison through a tunnel.
Even more surprising about the Rolling Stone article was it’s author. The interview with Guzman was organized and conducted by actor Sean Penn, who met the fugitive at his mountain hideout in Mexico last October.
The same day the article was published, a Mexican official told Associated Press that the interview with movie star Penn led Mexican forces to Guzman’s whereabouts.
Stranger than fiction?
Nathaniel Janowitz is a reporter for VICE magazine in Mexico City.
“The story of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán was already stranger than fiction — but it took an even more bizarre turn on Saturday night when Rolling Stone published a lengthy feature story authored by the actor Sean Penn.”
Janowitz joined Jon McComb on the show this morning to talk about his report on the unfolding Guzman saga.
LISTEN to the full interview with Nathaniel Janowitz, VICE reporter in Mexico City:
Through a Mexican telenovela star living in the states. In 2012 Kate del Castillo spoke out saying El Chapo was more of a hero to most Mexicans than the president. At that point she came into contact with him, and maintained contact after his initial capture in 2014. From there, an intermediary told Penn that del Castillo was talking with El Chapo, and the two met to set up an interview with the druglord.
Penn’s motivation to meet El Chapo?
That El Chapo Guzman has never given an interview in the history of his life. Until now, that is.
“If I had the opportunity to go meet El Chapo, I would have done it. And I can guarantee there’s probably a million people out there who would have done the same thing.”
Did Sean Penn lead to the capture of El Chapo?
“A lot of media sources have mis-attributed this to saying that Sean Penn led to the capture of El Chaop. And that’s not correct.”
Janowitz says a day after the interview with Penn in October, there were large sieges in the mountain range where he was hiding out.
“So Penn or somebody in Chapo’s group was tracked during the pick up of Penn to meeting El Chapo.”
Chapo escaped, but it flushed him out from his months long hiding place and put him on the run.
“So to say that Penn directly led to his capture is incorrect. Did he help in getting Chapo caught? I would say yes.”
What does Penn say about El Chapo?
The interview was cut short due to the raids that happened after day one of what was supposed to be a two-day interview.
“It’s quite unfortunate that Penn was unable to go back for the two-day long interview because of the raids that flushed him out. I think those would have been a lot more revealing.”
Penn shared a lot of El Chapo’s mannerisms and anecdotes about his behavior. A video that Chapo made and sent to Penn also gives insight into a man about whom so little is known.
Many reports says that Guzman will be extradited, and sentenced to prison in the Unites States.