Notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán was arrested last week, six months after he escaped from Mexico's maximum security Altiplano prison. The bizarre escape left a humiliated Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto no other choice but to call for a massive international manhunt — a manhunt that might have only ended because El Chapo wanted it to end.
Over the weekend, The Rolling Stone published an incredible hard-to-believe story written by Sean Penn, who claimed (and has picture evidence) that he conducted an interview with El Chapo himself, just days before the arrest was made.
Penn reveals, among many other things, that the drug lord delighted in hearing of documentaries made about him and the manhunt that was underway.
“He asks me if many people in the United States know about him. ‘Oh, yeah,’ I say, and inform him that the night before leaving for Mexico, I had seen that the Fusion Channel was repeating its special-edition Chasing El Chapo. He seems to delight in the absurdity of this…” Penn writes.
He also asked Penn about the movie business, and was quickly unimpressed by the money.
“We eat, drink, and talk for hours,” Penn continues. “He is interested in the movie business and how it works. He's unimpressed with its financial yield. The P&L high side doesn't add up to the downside risk for him.”
Those two pieces of information seem to be an interesting insight into Chapo’s mindset before the arrest, particularly because it was Mexico's attorney general Arely Gomez that told reporters that it was “his narcissism” and his desire to create a biopic of his life that “ultimately led to his re-capture.”
"Another important aspect that allowed [us] to locate him was having discovered the intention of Guzman to shoot a biographical film, for which he established contact with actresses and producers."
To think that this drug lord, fully aware of the massive manhunt hanging over his head, would be so bold and brazen as to start a biopic of his life? It has left many wondering if he wanted to get caught.
Slate Magazine recently interviewed Alejandro Hope, a former intelligence official in Mexico and the security and justice editor at El Daily Post.
During the interview, when asked what he thought motivated El Chapo besides money, Hope discussed how out of character his recent moves have been.
“[I]f you look at the interview and the movie project, it is such an imprudent move for a man who is the object of a massive manhunt. It is so out of character that it may lead to some insights into his style. Maybe age and life on the run had finally got to him. And maybe he wanted a way out, and this was a subtle form of signaling. I think he is getting tired of it.”
When asked to elaborate, Hope explained, “This is speculative, and maybe he was just trying to exercise control and thinking about his legacy, but he might have been signaling the Mexican government that he wanted a deal where he remained in Mexican prison in exchange for information on rival gangs, or perhaps ending his involvement in drug trafficking. In Mexico that has not been used but in Colombia they have done that over the past quarter century. They have given guys a deal of a short sentence to curb some activity.”
What would become of Chapo and his legacy if he is extradited to the U.S., in Hope’s opinion?
“In terms of influence, he is up there with Pablo Escobar. But if he goes to prison in America, he will not have a dramatic exit, as Escobar did. My guess is that if he is sent to an American prison, U.S. authorities will do everything in their power to flip the guy and turn him into an informant. They have done it with other drug lords. And that could alter how he is perceived. Right now part of his persona is that he is all-powerful. But to see him humiliated or turned into an informant might change that perception.”
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