Mexico City: Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's secret interview with US actor Sean Penn helped authorities locate his whereabouts, a Mexican law enforcement official has said. The world's most wanted drug trafficker was arrested early on Friday after a shootout in Los Mochis in his home state of Culiacan, six months after he embarrassed the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto by escaping for Mexico's most-secure prison. Five people were killed during the operation that led to the recapture of Guzman, who has twice escaped from prison.
Mexico Attorney General Arely Gomez had said on Friday that Guzman's contact with actors and producers for a possible biopic helped give law enforcement a new lead on tracking and capturing the world's most notorious drug kingpin. On Saturday, a Mexican official said it was the Penn interview that led authorities to Guzman in a rural part of Durango state in October. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to comment.
Authorities aborted their raid at the time because he was with two women and child. But they were able to track him to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, were he was captured. The interview between Guzman and Penn, purportedly held in late 2015 in a hideout in Mexico, appeared late on Saturday on the website of Rolling Stone magazine.
In it, the actor describes the complicated security measures he took to meet the drug lord. The men discuss topics ranging from drug trafficking to the Middle East. When asked about whether he is responsible for the high level of drug addiction in the world, Guzman purportedly responds: "No, that is false, because the day I don't exist, it's not going to decrease in any way at all. Drug trafficking? That's false."
The magazine says the meeting was brokered by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo. Its website has a two-minute video it says is the first ever exclusive interview with Guzman. It is in Spanish and in it Guzman sits in front of a chain link face and speaks to a camera. He is wearing a print blue shirt and dark baseball cap, but his face is clearly visible. Accompanying the article is a picture of Penn shaking hands with Guzman.