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Latin America

Mexican actress “betrayed” by Sean Penn after meeting with ‘El Chapo’

Kate del Castillo is willing to testify about cartel leader but only on US soil, says lawyer

Kate del Castillo y Sean Penn
Kate del Castillo and Sean Penn. EFE

Hollywood Actor Sean Penn knew that he would have never been able to meet with Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, the notorious head of the Sinaloa cartel, if it hadn’t been for Kate del Castillo.

The Mexican soap opera star was the only woman at a secret dinner El Chapo held for them last October, Penn later wrote in his first-person account for Rolling Stone.

And she was the only one who didn’t fear having her name appear in print in Penn’s article.

“After the interview she had no choice. Once Penn and Guzman agreed on the article, what was she going to do?”

Lawyer Harland Braun

Now facing an arrest warrant by Mexican prosecutors who want to question her about her relationship with El Chapo, Del Castillo says she “feels betrayed and used” by Penn, according to her lawyer.

Penn’s photograph standing next to the world’s most powerful drug lord made headlines around the globe, as well as his Rolling Stone article and the short video included with it in which El Chapo answers several questions asked by one of his aides.

But while Mexican authorities have said they will not investigate Penn, they insist on questioning Del Castillo for alleged money laundering and trying to set up a tequila business with Guzmán before he was captured on January 8.

Last week, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) issued a warrant for the soap opera actress after she failed to appear to testify in January before prosecutors at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.

The star of La reina del sur – in which she plays a female drug trafficker – is a longtime resident of Los Angeles and has dual Mexican-US citizenship.

“She didn’t know Penn was going to write for Rolling Stone,” said Harland Braun – of Braun & Braun, a well-known firm that represents Hollywood actors – in an interview with the Associated Press.

The lawyer said that she thought that Penn and two others who accompanied him had gone to seen El Chapo to discuss producing a movie about his life.

“After the interview she had no choice about it. Once Penn and Guzmán agreed on the article, what was she going to do? She signed off after they had done so,” said Braun, adding “that’s what made her feel really betrayed.”

“If we receive proper information and credentials, she’ll talk to them. She’s not hiding anything”

“The three of them go together and basically used her and didn’t tell her,” he said.

The lawyer said that a business deal she purportedly was going to set up with El Chapo is completely false, “and the Mexican government knows this.”

Mexican intelligence reportedly intercepted a series of text messages between Del Castillo and El Chapo’s lawyer Andrés Granados discussing a possible partnership for a tequila distributorship. The texts were later made public.

Braun said that Del Castillo has no problem in talking with investigators.

“If we receive proper information and credentials, she’ll talk to them. She’s not hiding anything,” he said adding that she would prefer that the interview take place on US soil.

He also denied there was any relationship between Guzman and Del Castillo.

“He obviously was a fan of hers. She was trying to encourage him because he wanted to make a movie about his life. That’s it,” Braun said. “They’re obviously friendly but that’s it.”

English version by Martin Delfín.

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