It has been revealed actor Sean Penn was under surveillance by Mexico intelligence in the run up to his clandestine October 2015 meeting with recently recaptured Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Further details have emerged this week regarding the controversial Rolling Stone interview conducted by US actor Penn. On January 11, Mexican daily El Universal published several grainy photographs showing Penn with his fixer, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, arriving at Guadalajara airport and meeting members of Guzmán’s entourage.
Mexican authorities have further claimed that Castillo’s communications with Guzmán and his lawyers had been closely monitored since August 2014. Guzmán first reached out to the television actress after she posted a plea on Twitter in 2012 for the drug lord to “traffic with love,” adding she believed “more in Chapo Guzmán than in the governments that hide the truth.”
Sinaloa-based newspaper Ríodoce has also revealed that the ultimate location for meeting with Guzmán — then Mexico’s most wanted man — was an ecological park owned by the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa. The park is located near the city of Cosalá on the border between the states of Sinaloa and Durango, in a remote area of northwest Mexico known as “The Golden Triangle.”
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For many observers, Guzmán’s use of a university-owned park that includes a museum, hotel, and observatory is yet more evidence suggesting the complicity of local authorities in his protection and concealment. Yet it should come as little surprise he could hold such a meeting in his home state, where his considerable power meant few people would ever speak out.
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Indeed, Penn notes in his piece that when en route to the meeting point, two government soldiers at a military checkpoint backed away from the vehicle, “looking embarrassed,” on catching a glance of his fellow passenger, Guzmán’s son Alfredo, through the open window.
As for the extent of surveillance, more details have yet to surface about exactly what Mexican authorities knew of this rendezvous. The degree to which Penn’s interview played a part in Guzmán’s capture remains unclear. Mexican authorities have said it was “essential,” with Mexico Attorney General Arely Gomez saying that authorities are also looking into whether Penn and Castillo broke any laws. In response, Penn has wholeheartedly defended his actions, telling The Associated Press that he has “nothin’ to hide.”