(CNN) – Actor Sean Penn breaking his silence about his secret meeting with Mexican drug king Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, facilitated by Mexican opera star Kate del Castillo.
However, instead of bragging that he may have helped bring down one of the world’s most wanted men, Penn is adamant that his meeting did not lead to El Chapo’s capture.
In an interview with CBS News, Penn calls that assertion from Mexican officials a myth.
(Sean Penn, Actor): “We have met with him many weeks earlier.”
(Reporter: On October 2nd?)
(Sean Penn, Actor) “On October 2nd. In a place nowhere near where he was captured.”
(Reporter): “So as far as you know, you had nothing to do and your visit had nothing to do with his recapture?”
(Sean Penn, Actor): “Here are the things that we know. We know that the Mexican government, they were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did. Nobody found him before they did. We are not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican intelligence, we had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation.”
Penn claims he and del Castillo have ditched their cellphones and other electronics prior to meeting El Chapo in the Mexican jungle.
Now, Penn is leveling his own charge, saying Mexican authorities are actually trying to set him up.
(Charlie Rose/CBS/question): “Do you believe that the Mexican government released this in part because they wanted to see you blamed and to put you at risk?”
(Sean Penn, Actor): “Yes”
(Charlie Rose/CBS/question): “They wanted to encourage the cartel to put you in the crosshairs?”
(Sean Penn, Actor): “Yes”
(Charlie Rose/CBS/question): “Are you fearful for your life?”
(Sean Penn, Actor): “No”
A Mexican official tells CNN that claim is, quote, absurd and nonsensical. The official says the Mexican government would have too much to lose if they put Penn’s life at risk.
But former DEA operations chief Michael Braun believes Penn’s and del Castillo’s lives could be in danger. “I’m telling you right now that one or more of key leaders within the Sineloa cartel are absolutely infuriated by the fact that the visit by Sean Pen and Ms. Del Castillo certainly contributed to Chapo Guzman’s arrest.”
Meanwhile, CNN has learned del Castillo is being targeted by another group: Mexican officials.
A senior Mexican law enforcement official tells CNN, Mexican authorities are investigating whether El Chapo provided funding to a tequila company owned by del Castillo. So far, no response from del Castillo or her representatives to that investigation.
Penn also told CBS why he interviewed El Chapo in the first place. The actor said he wanted to start a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs.
Penn also told CBS his article failed to accomplish that.
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