A series of suggestive text messages intercepted by the Mexican government between the fugitive drug lord El Chapo and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo ultimately led to his recapture.
The lengthy text conversation, published today by Mexican newspaper Milenio, reveals that El Chapo not only had no idea who Sean Penn is, but that he spent much of his time as a fugitive in his home state of Sinaloa.
It was the meeting with the Hollywood actor to discuss a future TV biopic of the fugitive drug lord that ultimately led to El Chapo’s recapture, and the Mexican soap opera star worked to orchestrate the event, telling El Chapo of her ‘excitement’ over their project.
Kate’s number was saved under the alias ‘Ermoza’ (a misspelling of ‘Hermosa’, meaning ‘Gorgeous’) in El Chapo’s contact list, was first put in touch with the fugitive after meeting a Sinaloa Cartel member while in the state.
The first contact is a simple message from one of El Chapo’s employees, most likely one of his sons given that the Sinaloa Cartel boss’s number is saved as ‘Dad’ (Papá) in the phone’s contact list:
First text: ‘I’m with her now sir’.
El Chapo: ‘Hello, what a pleasure to greet you, even if it’s over the phone. How have you been?’
Kate: ‘Very well. You?’
El Chapo: ‘Good, thank you, with desire to greet you personally, my friend. How many days will you be here?’
The initial conversations show El Chapo’s romantic desire for the actress who played a narco queen herself in many of her performances.
In the same first conversation the couple arrange their first rendezvous.
El Chapo: ‘They will pick you up from your Mazatlan (a Sinaloa state beach resort) hotel at 7am and you can leave the next morning. Bring wine and we will drink champagne. You are the most beautiful in the world, have faith that you will be safe, I’ll guard with more care than my own eyes’.
Kate: ‘It’s so moving that you’ll care for me! No one has ever cared for me, thank you! I’m free next weekend’.
El Chapo married his third wife Emma Coronel in 2007, and has 14 children.
Kate del Castillo, 43, is one of Mexico’s most acclaimed actresses and starred in one of the country’s most popular telenovelas ‘The Queen of the South’ in which she plays a drug trafficker.
Further messages in the conversation, which ran from September 25 until November 9, see El Chapo tell the actress that ‘I have so much desire for you, you are the most beautiful in the world’.
Kate returns the kingpin’s compliments, although focuses on the production of the TV series: ‘I haven’t slept much since I saw you. I’m so excited about the project, it’s all I think about’.
Following their meeting the pair begin to discuss a TV series, documenting the life of El Chapo.
While in Los Angeles Kate suggests that they bring Hollywood director Sean Penn into the project, at which point El Chapo reveals to another employee, listed as ‘M’ that he has never heard of the actor.
M: ‘Sean Penn, he has made very good films and he is drooling over the thought of meeting you’
El Chapo: ‘Who is this actor?’
M: ‘He the one who made the film 21 Grams’.
As the actress begins to organise the project, El Chapo starts to think as a director himself, messaging her, ‘I want you to interview my men and women at the ranch, and my mother wants to meet you, I told her all about you’.
El Chapo becomes ever more complimentary as time goes on, often messaging the actress describing her as ‘gorgeous’, ‘the most admired woman’ and even sending her a brand new top-of-the-range smartphone for her to use for contacting him alone.
Following the meeting with Kate’s ‘companion’ (acompañante) Sean Penn between November 5 and 9 according to the conversation transcript, El Chapo is given the article that would later appear in Rolling Stone magazine to check over.
The conversations end on November 9, with Kate persistently asking for a direct Mexican line to the drug lord, in order that any prospective producers for El Chapo’s TV biopic might be in touch.
The Mexican authorities have stated that this conversation between El Chapo and the soap opera actress was a major key to the drug lord’s recapture.
It is not clear whether the actress was cooperating with the authorities at any point.
Kate del Castillo has made no public comment on the meeting/s with El Chapo
The Mexican authorities have stated that they are investigating Sean Penn, although not for the actual meeting with El Chapo. ‘Meeting with a fugitive or a criminal is not a crime’, professor of law Carlos Barragan at Mexico’s National University told NBC news.
However if Penn or del Castillo were given valuable gifts at any point, they may be charged with money laundering by the Mexican authorities, a crime which carries a newly enhanced sentence of between 7 and 22 years in prison in the country.
Since his capture, El Chapo has been returned to the Altiplano maximum security prison from which he escaped in July 2015.