Sean Penn unwittingly led the Mexican authorities to El Chapo after meeting him for an extraordinary interview – and is now under investigation.
The sensational meeting took place in October and was arranged by Penn, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and a fixer, with the permission of the Sinaloa cartel.
El Chapo admitted in the bizarre interview to being the biggest drug trafficker in the world and said he sent engineers to Germany to learn how to build the tunnel he would eventually use to escape a maximum security prison.
The cartel boss was captured on Friday in a daring 4am raid by Mexican marines and was returned to Altiplano jail.
The double Oscar-winning actor’s meeting with El Chapo led to the gun battle in which he was captured, an official said.
Penn and del Castillo are now under investigation in Mexico, ABC News reported.
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Sean Penn met and interviewed drug lord El Chapo while he was on the run in October last year
Sean Penn was seen at a Help Haiti fundraiser tonight with Madonna, despite being under investigation in Mexico
In an article written by the Mystic River star for Rolling Stone, El Chapo says: ‘I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.’
Despite his notoriety, up until this point the Mexican gangster had always insisted he was ‘just a farmer’.
Penn wrote that El Chapo sent engineers – who were already accomplished in tunnel-building from the multitudes of underground paths they have built across the U.S.-Mexico border – to Germany to learn how to construct the tunnel he fled down as he escaped from prison in July last year.
The actor claimed the cartel leader was concerned about the low-lying water table beneath the jail.
Penn said he did not turn El Chapo in because the drug lord’s trust ‘was not to be f***ed with’.
‘I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men. But I’m in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true,’ Penn wrote.
El Chapo was caught after contacting actors and directors about making a Narcos-style biopic about his life, Mexican officials said.
El Chapo – real name Joaquin Guzman – also explains in a video interview how he escaped from the prison and talks of how he became one of the most notorious drug lords of all time.
The bizarre meeting took place in Mexico and was arranged by Penn, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo (pictured with Penn and musicians) and a fixer, with the permission of the Sinaloa cartel
Kate Del Castillo played an integral role in organizing the interview for Rolling Stone back in October
Speaking to Del Castillo, El Chapo explains how he wound up joining the illegal drug trade.
‘Well from the age of 15 and on, where I’m from, which is the Municipality of Badiraguato, I was raised on a ranch called La Tuna in that area and up until today there are no job opportunities.
‘Well, its a reality that drugs destroy. Unforunately, as I said, where I grew up there was no other way and ther still isnt a way to survive. No other way to work in our economy to be able to make a living.’
The cartel boss claims he is not to blame for people becoming addicted to drugs, saying people would continue to take narcotics if he died.
Answering questions on whether he his gang is violent, he says: ‘Look… all I do is defend myself. Nothing more. But do I start looking for trouble? Never.’
It is not clear whether Penn was contacted about the movie or played any role in El Chapo’s capture.
Mexican authorities knew about the meeting between Penn and El Chapo before the raid on Friday, an official said.
He is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. and his cartel lawyer has already filed six separate injunctions challenging requests to send him to face justice in America – meaning the whole process could take months.
Locked up: El Chapo was recaptured six months since he escaped from Mexico’s most secure prison
Military action: El Chapo was apprehended in an early morning raid in the town of Los Mochis, in the drug kingpin’s home state of Sinaloa and 1,300 miles away from the jail he escaped from
The seeds for the bizarre meeting between Penn and El Chapo were sown back in 2012 after a representative for the Mexican gangster contacted Del Castillo after she posted tweets saying she had more trust in the cartel than the government.
A lawyer for the Sinaloa cartel said flowers were being sent to the actress, however they never arrived.
Del Castillo later met a fixer called Espinoza – and both of them remained in contact with El Chapo’s people after his escape.
Penn later met Espinoza and suggested he meet the fugitive for a magazine article and, incredibly, the Sinaloa cartel agreed to it.
After arriving in Mexico, Penn and his colleagues had all of their electronic items taken away from them by El Chapo’s associates and were driven at speeds of over 100mph to and abandoned airstrip.
After boarding a plane, Penn realized his driver had been Alfredo Guzman – El Chapo’s son – who would later tell him their aircraft carries scramblers to avoid detection by radar.
More than 14 hours after leaving Los Angeles, they finally met the notorious drug lord in a clearing in the depths of the Mexican jungle.
Penn wrote that a local family cooked the group a enchiladas and tacos before he and El Chapo held seven-hour talks about the cartel boss’s life.
JOAQUIN ‘EL CHAPO’ GUZMAN’S GREAT ESCAPE FROM PRISON IN JULY 2015
The billionaire leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel began his escape at 8.52pm on Saturday, when he entered the showers at the Altiplano maximum-security prison, 50 miles outside of Mexico City.
The drug kingpin prised open a 50cm by 50cm grill in the shower floor, and climbed down a 32ft shaft into the complex tunnel system that his henchmen had spent the last year digging underneath the feet of the prison guards.
Inside the tunnel was electric lighting, a ventilation system and a motorbike waiting to carry him to freedom.
The 0.9mile tunnel led directly from underneath the prison showers to the Santa Juana construction site, just outside of the prison perimeters.
Waiting for him here was a ramshackle building, with just two bedrooms, a cellar, and a change of clothes for the crime lord.
Prison break: A motorcycle adapted to a rail sits in the tunnel under the half-built house where El Chapo made his escape from the Altiplano maximum security prison in July
Slipped away: A composite handout picture taken from a video shows the escape of El Chapo through the tunnel
And El Chapo had everything he needed to disappear into the Mexican countryside once again, for the second time in 15 years.
But the plan took incredibly detailed, exact planning from the group of four highly-skilled engineers, trusted with the liberation of their leader.
They had acquired blueprints of the prison, and worked a gruelling 10 hour a day schedule for almost an entire year before the tunnel was complete.
The tunnel was no small feat of engineering. It was 0.9miles long, 5ft6in high, and 2ft3in wide.
Overall, the team had to shift more than 3,250 tonnes of earth from under the very noses of the prison officials.
The operation would have required 379 dump trucks in total, carrying tens of thousands of bags of earth.
But incredibly, nothing was ever reported.
A couple who live next to the end of El Chapo’s escape tunnel have revealed how a mysterious neighbour who called himself ‘El Pastor’ moved into the area six months ago and claimed he was building a house.
Lorenzo Esquivel and Maria Esther Salgado, live a mile from the Altiplano jail in the town of Almoloya de Juarez.
The couple told how the man moved into the grey, brink building at the start of this year, before embarking on a series of building works.
They said the man – who they described as tall, portly and in his 50s – would often ferry material to and from the site in his red 4×4 and a white pick-up truck.
The man introduced himself as El Pastor – meaning the Shepherd – the couple told MailOnline.
‘He definitely wasn’t from around here but he was always very friendly,’ they said.
‘He told us he was building a new house on the property but we never saw any exterior changes.’
On Saturday, the day El Chapo made his escape, the couple described seeing two ‘very luxury black 4x4s’ also arrive at the property.
They saw the cars drive away again the following morning, along with El Pastor’s two vehicles.