Mexican Drug Lord and Hollywood Wannabe El Chapo Meets With Sean Penn and Gets Caught

By Shani Saxon-Parrish Jan 11, 2016

This movie just keeps getting weirder. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the infamous Mexican drug boss who became an antihero to many after his unlikely (and second) dramatic escape from a maximum-security prison in July, has been recaptured and is now facing extradition to the United States on drug charges.

The Mexican government announced late Sunday, January 11, that it had formally started extradition proceedings for Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel and, as it turns out, a Hollywood wannabe. His violent capture took place just before the release of Rolling Stone magazine’s not-so-secret, 10,000-word interview of El Chapo conducted by actor Sean Penn. The actor met Guzman through a mutual friend, Mexican superstar and “Weeds” actress Kate del Castillo. She and Guzman were in talks to produce a biopic about his life—a life that has been filled with corruption, tragedy and violence.

His Sinaloa Cartel is said to be responsible for supplying copious amounts of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines to North America, Europe and East, South and Southeast Asia. Guzman’s vast network reportedly includes high-ranking Mexican politicians and law enforcement officials. During its U.S.-backed drug war, Mexico has seen more than 60,000 people killed from 2006 to 2012. Thousands of unaccompanied child refugees have fled to America to escape the immediate danger in their communities.

Of the Guzman exclusive, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner told The New York Times that he didn’t have much detail about the October encounter between Penn and Guzman. The Times, in turn, questioned the ethics of Rolling Stone for "dealing with Mr. Guzman, a criminal being sought on charges of drug trafficking and murder, and in allowing him to approve what would ultimately be published about him.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara isn’t letting himself get distracted by all of the boldface names involved in this insane story. His team is currently seeking a subpoena to search the cell phones of Hollywood heavyweight Penn.