A Mexican law enforcement official says recaptured drug lord Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman's secret interview with actor Sean Penn helped authorities locate his whereabouts.
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The official, who spoke Saturday on condition of anonymity, said it was the Penn interview that led authorities to Guzman in a rural part of Durango state in October. They aborted their raid at the time because he was with two women and a child.
In an article published late Saturday in Rolling Stone, and authored by Penn, the actor describes the complicated measures he took to meet the legendary drug lord. He discusses topics ranging from drug trafficking to Middle East politics with Guzman.
"I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats," Guzman is quoted as saying.
Asked about who is to blame for drug trafficking, Guzman is quoted as saying: "If there was no consumption, there would be no sales. It is true that consumption, day after day, becomes bigger and bigger. So it sells and sells."
Guzman says 'drugs destroy'
Rolling Stone also posted a video showing two minutes of the interview.
Asked how he became involved in drug trafficking, Guzman says he realized at age 15 that there were no job opportunities where he lived in the municipality of Badiragua in northwest Mexico's Sinaloa state.
He agrees that "drugs destroy," but adds "there was no other way" to make a living.
Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez has said El Chapo's desire to tell his story on film, after his daring prison escape last summer, helped lead authorities to his hiding place in his home state of Sinaloa early Friday.
"Another important aspect which helped locate him was discovering Guzman's intention to have a biographical film made," Gomez said. "He contacted actresses and producers, which was part of one line of investigation."
Guzman has been returned to the Altiplano maximum-security prison, from where he escaped in July, via a tunnel dug beneath the shower stall in his cell.
Calls for extradition
Mexico is willing to extradite Guzman to the United States, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Saturday, a sharp reversal from the official position after his last capture in 2014.
"Mexico is ready. There are plans to co-operate with the U.S.," said the Mexican official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to comment.
But he cautioned that there could be a lengthy wait before U.S. prosecutors can get their hands on Guzman.
The drug kingpin's organization has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and is blamed for thousands of deaths linked to addiction and gang violence.
But one of Guzman's lawyers, Juan Pablo Badillo, suggested his client could not be extradited.
"In strict accordance with the constitution, he cannot nor should not be extradited to any foreign country," Badillo told
a local television channel on Saturday. Guzman's legal team has reportedly filed six injunctions that could delay the process for months or even years.
Mexican marines had barely faced down .50-calibre sniper guns and a loaded grenade launcher to once more recapture the drug lord from a hotel in the seaside town of Los Mochis when the extradition calls started coming.
Those quick calls were the same as those after the February 2014 capture of Guzman. At the time, Mexico's government insisted it could handle the man who had already broken out of one maximum-security prison, saying he must pay his debt to Mexican society first.
Then Guzman escaped a second time on July 11 under the noses of guards and prison officials at Mexico's most secure lock-up, slipping out an elaborate tunnel that showed the country's depth of corruption while thoroughly embarrassing the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In celebrating Guzman's latest capture, Mexican officials showed none of their bravado of two years ago, though they made clear that the intelligence building and investigation were carried out entirely by Mexican forces.
"They have to extradite him," said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst in Mexico. "It's almost a forced move."
Guzman, a legendary figure in Mexico who went from a farmer's son to the world's top drug lord, was apprehended after a shootout between gunmen and Mexican marines in Los Mochis.
Friday's operation resulted from six months of investigation and intelligence-gathering by Mexican forces, who located Guzman in Durango state in October but decided not to shoot because he was with two women and a child, she said. After that he took a lower profile and limited his communication until he decided to move to Los Mochis in December.
Gomez said that one of Guzman's key tunnel builders led them to the neighbourhood in Los Mochis, where authorities did surveillance for a month. The team noticed a lot of activity at the house Wednesday and the arrival of a car early Thursday morning. Authorities were able to determine that Guzman was inside the house, she said.
5 suspects killed, 6 arrested
The marines decided to close in early Friday and were met with gunfire. Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One marine was injured.
"You could hear intense gunfire and a helicopter; it was fierce," said a neighbour, adding that the battle raged for three hours, starting at 4 a.m. She refused to be quoted by name in fear for her own safety.
Gomez said Guzman and his security chief, Ivan (El Cholo) Gastelum, were able to flee via storm drains and escape through a manhole cover to the street, where they commandeered getaway cars. Marines climbed into the drains in pursuit. They closed in on the two men based on reports of stolen vehicles and they were arrested on the highway.
The troops took them to the roadside hotel Doux, where they awaited reinforcements, Gomez said.
In 2014, Guzman evaded capture by fleeing through a network of interconnected tunnels in the drainage system under Culiacan, the Sinaloa state capital.
Heavily fortified house
Marines seized two armoured vehicles, eight rifles, one handgun and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the home in Los Mochis, the navy's statement said.
Photos showed that two of the seized rifles were .50-calibre sniper guns, capable of penetrating most bullet-proof vests and cars. The grenade launcher was found loaded, with an extra round nearby. An assault rifle had a 40-mm grenade launcher and at least one grenade.
After his first capture in Guatemala in June 1993, Guzman was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He reportedly made his 2001 escape from the maximum security prison in a laundry cart, though some have discounted that version.