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Mexico wants to question Sean Penn over Chapo meeting: federal source

Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted into a helicopter at Mexico City's airport on January 8, 2016
Alfredo Estrella (AFP)
White House says 'El Chapo's' drug supply boast to Sean Penn 'maddening'

A meeting between US actor Sean Penn and Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in the Mexican jungle helped lead to the drug kingpin's capture this week, a Mexican official said Saturday.

But Mexican authorities want to question US actor Sean Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo over their interview with Guzman, a federal official told AFP on Sunday.

"That is correct, of course, it's to determine responsibilities," the official said on condition of anonymity, refusing to provide more details after Rolling Stone on Saturday published an October interview between Guzman, Penn and Castillo before his recapture this week.

The official refused to provide more details about the bid by the attorney general's office to speak with the actors. A second federal official said it was unclear whether Penn and del Castillo committed a crime.

While a reporter could interview a drug cartel suspect, "they're not journalists," the official said.

The US rock magazine Rolling Stone posted online on Saturday an interview between Penn and Guzman as well as an October 2 picture showing the Oscar-winning actor shaking hands with the mustachioed Sinaloa drug cartel leader.

Antonia Nava (AFP)

"I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world," Guzman told Penn in a stunning admission of his criminal enterprise over sips of tequila.

"I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats," Guzman said in the meeting, which Mexican actress Kate del Castillo helped to arrange.

Asked if he feels responsible for the high level of addictions in the world, he said: "It's false. The day that I don't exist, it won't reduce drug trafficking."

- White House says 'El Chapo's' boast to Sean Penn 'maddening' - 

Mexican drug boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's boast to actor Sean Penn of being the world's top supplier of illegal drugs is "maddening," a top White House official said Sunday.

"I will tell you this braggadocious action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the United States, is maddening," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said in an interview with CNN's "State of the Union."

"We see a heroin epidemic, opioid addiction epidemic in this country. We are going to stay on top of this with our Mexican counterparts until we get that back in the box.

"But El Chapo is behind bars. That's where he should stay," he added.

Penn's interview with the Sinaloa cartel chief was published Saturday by Rolling Stone magazine, and an official in Mexico City said Mexican authorities wanted to talk to him and actress Kate del Castillo, who helped arrange the meeting.

"It poses a lot of interesting questions for him and others involved in this so-called interview. We'll see what happens," McDonough said.

Eric Feferberg (AFP/File)

- Extradition bid -

The Rolling Stone interview emerged after Mexican prosecutors announced that they would seek Guzman's extradition to the United States, a reversal from President Enrique Pena Nieto's refusal to send him across the border.

The attorney general's office said it received two US extradition requests last year on a slew of charges, including drug trafficking and murder, and that it later obtained arrest warrants to ship him across the border.

"With Guzman Loera's recapture, the respective extradition proceedings will have to start," the office said in a statement.

It did not indicate when the hearings would start, and noted that Guzman's lawyers could seek appeals.

One of Guzman's attorneys, Juan Pablo Badillo, vowed to take the case up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

"He shouldn't be extradited because Mexico has a fair Constitution," Badillo told reporters outside the Altiplano prison near Mexico City, where Guzman was sent following his arrest.

It was from that prison that Guzman escaped on July 11, sneaking into a hole in his cell's shower that led to a 1.5-kilometer tunnel outside the prison.

A Mexican federal official defended the decision to send Guzman back to Altiplano, saying measures were taken to improve security, including the installation of metal rods under the floor of prison cells.

Hector Guerrero (AFP)

- Deadly raid -

Five suspects died and one marine was wounded in the raid to arrest the world's most wanted drug baron early Friday in Los Mochis, a coastal city in Guzman's native northwestern state of Sinaloa. Six people were detained in the operation.

"When we had the courage, we looked out the window and saw the soldiers on the ground firing at the garage door until they opened it," said a neighbor.

Guzman and his security chief fled through the city's drainage system.

In the Rolling Stone video interview, Guzman is asked about the belief that Mexican authorities want to kill him instead of taking him alive.

He responds: "No, I think that if they find me they will arrest me. Of course."

Staff with agencies


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