Sean Penn, American actor, filmmaker, political activist, two times winner of the Academy Award, for his roles in the mystery drama “Mystic River” and the biopic “Milk”; had a secret interview with Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in October 2015 in the “Golden Triangle” zone, near the stateline between Sinaloa and Durango, months after Guzman’s jail break, as published by Rolling Stone Magazine.
A White House spokesman said the Hollywood actor’s “so-called interview” was “maddening”, while Republican Marco Rubio said it was “grotesque”.
Guzman, 58, was recaptured on Friday January 8th after months on the run.
Unnamed Mexican officials say Penn’s secret meeting helped lead them to the boss of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
He has now been returned to the maximum-security Altiplano jail, from where he escaped in July via a tunnel dug to the shower in his cell.
In the Rolling Stone article, the result of a seven-hour “sit-down”, Guzman said he was the world’s leading supplier of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told CNN: “One thing I will tell you is that this braggadocious action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the United States, is maddening.
“We see a heroin epidemic, an opioid addiction epidemic, in this country… But El Chapo’s behind bars – that’s where he should stay.”
The Mexican authorities would not say whether they would investigate Penn and a Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo, who apparently arranged the interview.
Mr McDonough declined to answer a question about whether the US would hand Penn over to Mexico for questioning.
“Well, it poses a lot of very interesting questions both for him and for others involved in this-so-called interview, so we’ll see what happens on that – I’m not going to get ahead of it,” he said.
Mr Rubio told ABC: “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.”