How Sean Penn Got to El Chapo

It all may date back to a 2012 tweet
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2016 6:55 AM CST
How Sean Penn Got to El Chapo
Sean Penn arrives at the Ffith Annual Sean Penn & Friends Help Haiti Home Gala at the Montage Beverly Hills on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The big buzz of the weekend was Sean Penn's 10,000-word Rolling Stone interview with Joaquin Guzman, less formally known as El Chapo. The interview is said to have led to the drug kingpin's capture on Friday in the city of Los Mochis in Sinaloa. The latest:

  • How Penn got his meeting: Thank Twitter. Mashable reports that Penn's co-interviewer, Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, in 2012 addressed El Chapo on Twitter in a sort of "open letter" in which she suggested he "[start] trafficking with love." A connection was established: El Chapo apparently wanted to send her flowers after the tweet and had one of his lawyers reach out. After his 2014 arrest, the two sent notes to each other regarding a possible Guzman biopic. A mutual friend of Penn's and del Castillo's looped Penn in.

  • Did Penn cross a legal line? Unlikely, at least according to the experts the Los Angeles Times spoke with. In order for an accessory-after-the-fact charge to stick, there would need to be evidence of something beyond a meeting (the Times' example: like "offering the fugitive advice on how to avoid detection").
  • Where Guzman stands, legally: He very well may be US-bound. Mexico has begun extradition proceedings that would see El Chapo face charges that run the gamut from drug trafficking to kidnapping to murder. While Mexico pushed back against such extradition in 2014, "that position changed after he escaped" in July, per Reuters.
  • The when and where: Though seven US jurisdictions have open indictments against him, one former DEA agent suspects he'd end up in Chicago. The AP reports Guzman's lawyers have filed six motions to challenge extradition requests; the head of extradition for the Mexican Attorney General's Office puts the extradition timeline at a year.
  • About that sex motel: The Guardian has a play-by-play of El Chapo's capture, which could have been a non-capture, had Guzman's escape following a 4:30am Friday gun battle succeeded. He and his head of security fled via the sewer, "squelch[ing] through the fetid tunnels" until, it is believed, 10am. They were captured after carjacking a vehicle and heading north, and immediately brought to a "discreet refuge": a sex motel.
  • About that flatulence: Gawker pulls together what it dubs Penn's "worst lines" from the profile, and one describes Penn farting in front of the kingpin.
  • What Rolling Stone thought of the flatulence line: Per the New York Times, "Sean Penn has a particular style and point of view, and [managing editor Jason Fine is] happy with it."
  • Flak: Rolling Stone is catching it over the control it promised Guzman over the article. Publisher Jann Wenner is cool with it.
(Even more dangerous than El Chapo: El Mencho?)

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