UPDATE (1/9/16 11:06 p.m.):
ABC News reports that both actress Kate del Castillo, credited by the story as instrumental in facilitating the meeting, as well as Sean Penn are currently under investigation by the Mexican government. This is developing.
See original story below.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a notorious Mexican drug kingpin, was captured and transported back to prison on January 8. However, actor Sean Penn interviewed Guzman for Rolling Stone while he was in hiding from law enforcement officials.
In the candid interview—a piece Guzman ultimately had final say over—El Chapo explained that he began growing marijuana at the age of 15 to help his impoverished family. He’s long past those humble beginnings, since he now supplies drugs throughout Mexico.
“I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” Guzman told Penn.
The drug cartel leader’s net worth is estimated at $1 billion. His massive fortune and reputation gains him to access to freedom, even as the Mexican government attempts to incarcerate him.
Guzman’s escaped prison twice through underground tunnels. On July 11, 2014, Guzman escaped through an elaborate $5 million tunnel that was built over the course of a few months.
Penn was drawn to interview Guzman because of America’s fascination with capturing him.
“Not since Osama bin Laden has the pursuit of a fugitive so occupied the public imagination,” Penn wrote in Rolling Stone. “But unlike bin Laden, who had posed the ludicrous premise that a country's entire population is defined by – and therefore complicit in – its leadership's policies, with the world's most wanted drug lord, are we, the American public, not indeed complicit in what we demonize?” he asked.
Penn set to find out more about the man behind the reputation in October. They met for seven hours in an undisclosed Mexican forest and also had follow-up phone and video interviews.
Penn likens Guzman to Al Pacino’s classic movie character, Tony Montana from Scarface.
“His unguarded will to speak freely, his comfort with his station in life and ownership of extraordinary justifications, conjure Tony Montana in Oliver Stone's Scarface,” Penn wrote.
The interview also includes more in-depth details about Guzman’s July escape from prison as well as his interest in creating a movie about his life.
It’s a rollercoaster ride that mirrors Guzman’s life as an unapologetic drug-dealing outlaw, but as fate would have it, the interview may have also been what tipped off authorities and led to his recapture. According to the Associated Press, "Mexican official says drug lord Guzman's interview with actor Sean Penn led Mexican forces to his whereabouts."
Per a disclosure included by the editors of the piece, "Some names have had to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes." You can read it in full here.