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Sean Penn Interviews El Chapo for Rolling Stone… SHOCK: Magazine Gives Fugitive Drug Lord Editorial Control

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Pat Saperstein reports in Variety:

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Sean Penn interviewed fugitive Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo,” who was captured and returned to prison Friday, for Rolling Stone magazine. Loera was said to have been captured when he reached out to producers and actors about making a biopic of his life.

The interview published Saturday evening was conducted in October while the drug lord was on the run from Mexican and U.S. authorities. Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, star of soap opera “La Reina del Sur,” conducted the interview with Penn. It was arranged through a producer he calls Espinoza in the article.

Though he formerly denied being a drug dealer, he told the actor, from a secret location, “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

The Rolling Stone story provides details of his escape from Mexican prison in July 2015.

Penn explained his interest in the outlaw, saying in the article, “I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men. But I’m in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true. ”

“I took some comfort in a unique aspect of El Chapo’s reputation among the heads of drug cartels in Mexico: that, unlike many of his counterparts who engage in gratuitous kidnapping and murder, El Chapo is a businessman first, and only resorts to violence when he deems it advantageous to himself or his business interests,” he continues.

Read the rest here. Penn’s Rolling Stone article contains this disclaimer at the beginning, which indicates the level of editorial control the then-fugitive drug lord was given by the magazine (emphasis in original):

Disclosure: 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.

Penn suggests in his article that “we, the American public” are also complicit in the cartel lord’s crimes:

As an American citizen, I’m drawn to explore what may be inconsistent with the portrayals our government and media brand upon their declared enemies. Not since Osama bin Laden has the pursuit of a fugitive so occupied the public imagination. 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? We are the consumers, and as such, we are complicit in every murder, and in every corruption of an institution’s ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States that comes as a result of our insatiable appetite for illicit narcotics.

Read the full interview here.

UPDATE: Matt Gutman of ABC News is reporting on Twitter that Mexican authorities are investigating both Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo for meeting with El Chapo.

Del Castillo, who has publicly expressed support for Guzmán in the past, brokered the meeting between the two-time Academy Award winning actor and the drug lord.


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