Sean Penn’s Interview With El Chapo Sparks Controversy

Sean Penn’s Interview With El Chapo Sparks Controversy
_DSC0560 dan lundmark / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn had a meeting with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most wanted drug lord, late last year.


In his article, an 11,000-word piece titled “El Chapo Speaks,” published in Rolling Stone on Saturday, Penn writes about his meeting with the kingpin of the Sinaloa drug cartel in a Mexican jungle. The article shows the two men shaking hands and a video wherein Guzman is answering questions about his drug business.

During the interview, Penn said, Guzman spoke proudly about his business. “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world,” Guzman said in the interview, as covered in Penn’s article. “I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

The meeting was conducted on Guzman’s agreement, who wanted a Hollywood star to make a movie depicting his drug business, USA Today reports. The article came the day after Guzman was captured for the second time in Sinaloa. The interview that Penn had with Guzman helped law enforcement track the drug kingpin and capture him.

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Speaking about Guzman’s acknowledgement of his business in the meeting between him and Penn, Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff, called the remarks “maddening.”

“We see a heroin epidemic, opioid addiction epidemic in this country,” he said. “We’re 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 and that’s where he should stay.”

PR expert Howard Bragman said while there is a possibility of a movie about Guzman, his story is not over yet. “I don’t think this story is over, you’re going to have a lot of twists and turns before it’s over,” Bragman said. “El Chapo could escape again, he could be extradited, he could be executed for murder. Lots of different things could happen. And he’s not the most sympathetic character in the world.”

As reported by Los Angeles Times, Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, said he hopes the Mexican government would extradite Guzman. Speaking about Penn’s role in the controversy, Rubio said, “If one of these American actors, who have benefited from the greatness of this country, who have made money from our free enterprise system, want to go fawn all over a criminal and a drug trafficker in their interviews, they have a constitutional right to do it. I find it grotesque.”

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