UPDATE: 10:45 p.m. EST -- Actor Sean Penn's rare interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as "El Chapo," led Mexican authorities to the fugitive's whereabouts, officials said, according to the Associated Press. El Chapo, who escaped prison twice, is accused of drug trafficking. Penn secured a rare meeting with El Chapo in Mexico in October.
Months before the infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as "El Chapo," was arrested Friday, he reportedly spent seven hours with famous American actor and director Sean Penn. El Chapo met with Penn in October, while he was on the run from U.S. and Mexican authorities, the New York Times reported Saturday evening.
El Chapo was among the world’s most wanted fugitives, and he has escaped supposedly ironclad prisons twice. He was captured in northwest Mexico, in his home state of Sinaloa, after a gun battle with authorities. While at large he met Penn and consented to do a rare and recorded interview at a later time, but it ultimately proved impossible to meet again for an in-person interview, Rolling Stone magazine reported.
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Penn was able to send questions by a BlackBerry Messenger device, and El Chapo sent back a video response to his questions. Rolling Stone said it believed it was the first interview in decades with the drug lord outside of an interrogation room.
In the video, El Chapo said he went into the drug business due to economic necessity. "Where I grew up there was no other way and there still isn’t a way to survive, no other way to work in our economy to be able to make a living," he said.
An article written by Penn for Rolling Stone went to press just as El Chapo was being arrested, an editor's note said. Penn is known for his political activism and criticisms of the U.S. government.
"I'm drawn to explore what may be inconsistent with the portrayals our government and media brand upon their declared enemies," he wrote in the lengthy Rolling Stone article. "Not since Osama bin Laden has the pursuit of a fugitive so occupied the public imagination."
The story offers insight into various aspects of El Chapo’s life, including his childhood, career as a drug lord and his escape from prison last summer. Penn also brought up Republican front-runner Donald Trump at one point during his meeting, following reports that El Chapo had put a $100 million bounty on Trump after the business tycoon made comments offensive to many Mexicans. “Ah! Mi amigo!” El Chapo responded.
El Chapo said he has tried drugs in the past but has never been an addict, and hasn’t touched drugs in the last 20 years.