“Today I believe more in El Chapo Guzman than in the governments that hide the truth from me even though it is painful,” Mexican-American actor Kate del Castillo posted from her Twitter account.
So continued the saga of the legendary El Chapo – drug lord and modern day Robin Hood outlaw figure to many people of the Americas south of the United States border.
After visiting the birthplace of Jesse James, Oscar Wilde wrote that “Americans are certainly great hero-worshippers, and always take their heroes from the criminal classes.” Now that the government is openly criticized as participatory in the criminal classes, it certainly makes sense for people to believe more in a drug lord who helps the people than in the government who says they help they people, but secretly send them down paths meant to fail. El Chapo pushes meth, cannabis, cocaine, and heroin. Also, there are murders of innocents and government officials, and disappearances. The Mexican government pushes free trade agreements and refuses to tackle poverty. Who’s better? Who’s worse? Who would you trust more when it comes to your daily security? El Chapo and his cartel? Me, too. I just wouldn’t get on their bad side.
That is to say, it would take a special person to meet El Chapo Guzmán (“Shorty Guzmán,” if you like) deep in the wilds of the mountainous Mexican jungle, surrounded by armed guards, stripped of your worldly possessions. It sounds monumental, possibly downright delusional to think you’d even escape the situation alive. Who would do such a thing? Frankly, it all sounds Gonzo as fuck.
Enter actor, director and activist Sean Penn. On Rolling Stone’s dime, Penn brokered a deal with actor del Castillo, who had played a drug trafficker on tv – perhaps this is why El Chapo felt such an affinity for her? – and who even received flowers from Guzmán’s real cartel after her supportive tweet. They continued to correspond after El Chapo’s prison escape; he wanted her help in making a movie about his life. Penn was granted the drug lord’s first interview ever (aside from those held in interrogation rooms). An interview that ultimately led to the kingpin’s subsequent arrest.
Let’s turn our eye to the jungle.-
A full hug. A look deep into the eyes. Signs of both trust and fear – I’ll get close to you, but only to see if you’re hiding something. The “compadre” hug. With that gesture, Sean Penn’s seven hour interview with El Chapo began. The drug kingpin sipped tequila in a silk shirt and black jeans and he made no bones about the immensity of his empire.
“I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” he told Penn, who was regaled with tales of a well-planned escape, better planned than any city project on either side of the border. El Chapo had used his net worth of over $1 billion to send engineers to train in Germany before they dug his escape tunnel beside the high-security prison on the outskirts of Mexico City. The tunnel even had a motorcycle on rails adjusted to run in a low-oxygen environment.
Near the end of the interview a photo was taken, proof for Rolling Stone that the two had met, and another interview was promised. They would not meet in person again but instead correspond through video and messaging interviews until Shorty Guzmán was arrested once again on Jan 8, after a navigation through storm drains and through a manhole cover and out into the street. There’s speculation that authorities were tracking the cell phone signals of El Chapo’s henchmen as they contacted filmmakers (not sure exactly which ones) about getting his epic story on the silver screen. Some reports say he was arrested in a vehicle on the highway. Others say he was found by the Mexican Navy inside a home in the city of Los Mochis where the locals were protecting their beloved Robin Hood.
Meanwhile, Sean Penn and del Castillo both are wanted for questioning about the specifics of interview and its preceding details. Both the White House and Marco Rubio were horrified that the meeting took place at all. They have both taken the time to claim such an interview was “maddening” and “grotesque” respectively. By their condemnation one thing is clear: we like it already! The tale of El Chapo is becoming the stuff of major legend.