A series of photographs taken by Mexican authorities and released Monday revealed that actor Sean Penn’s journey to a secret interview with drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera was closely tracked by the country’s law enforcement agencies.
The photographs, which Mexican newspaper El Universal claims it obtained from a Mexican government intelligence file, capture Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo as they traveled to an unknown location deep in the Mexican jungle to interview the world’s most notorious fugitive for Rolling Stone magazine in October.
In one photograph, Penn, donning a baseball cap and sunglasses, appears to be arriving at a local airport prior to the meeting with El Chapo. Another photograph seemingly shows Penn and del Castillo meeting with some men outside the Villa Ganz hotel in Guadalajara. The New York Post reports that the men were involved in transporting the pair to El Chapo’s secret location.
Also included in the series of photographs is a shot of what appears to be one of the private planes that Penn and del Castillo used to get to the interview.
In his 10,000-word article for Rolling Stone, Penn acknowledged the likelihood that he was being watched, despite taking numerous security precautions: “I see no spying eyes, but I assume they are there.”
Penn is currently under investigation by Mexican authorities, who say the clandestine meeting helped lead to El Chapo’s capture and arrest on Friday. In an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Penn said he had “nothin’ to hide,” and shrugged off critics who slammed Rolling Stone‘s decision to allow the drug kingpin final edit over the story.
Mexico has agreed to extradite El Chapo to the United States, but the process could take years as the cartel leader’s lawyers attempt to block the proceedings in court.
Observers appear to be divided about Penn’s legal culpability in meeting with the drug lord and his subsequent capture.
“The Mexican government is looking for [El Chapo]. U.S. authorities are looking for him. There is a law [that says] if someone is a fugitive, you’re supposed to turn him in,” former federal prosecutor Elliott Wales told the New York Post. “I think Penn has violated this law and can be charged with that.”
Meanwhile, Hollywood defense attorney Mark Geragos told TheWrap that not only is Penn not in any serious legal trouble, but he could see financial compensation as well.
“There’s no way they’re going to get Sean Penn for anything. There is no way that I can see any kind of legitimate prosecution that could come from this,” Geragos told the outlet. “From a purely factual standpoint, I’m not so sure that his interview didn’t directly lead to the arrest of El Chapo. If there’s a reward for his capture… Sean Penn may collect the reward.”
Check out the photographs of Penn and del Castillo’s journey above.