Kate del Castillo claims Sean Penn used her as ‘bait’ to meet El Chapo
Actress Kate del Castillo is calling actor Sean Penn’s 2016 Rolling Stone article about El Chapo “full of s —" after she helped arrange his meeting with the Mexican drug cartel leader at great personal cost.
Appearing Wednesday on “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” Del Castillo told her side of the story behind Penn’s bombshell interview with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, which she translated after persuading the Sinaloa cartel boss to meet with the movie star during the former’s 2015 prison break.
“Suddenly, Sean starts saying, ‘Tell him that I want to interview him for Rolling Stone magazine,’” Del Castillo told Gloria, Lili and Emily Estefan. “I was just like, ‘Wait, this was not on the script.’ ... I cannot do a face because [Guzman is] gonna notice that something’s wrong. He’s gonna pick up on it, and [Penn is] gonna be dead in just a blink of my eye.”
Del Castillo, who played a powerful cartel leader in Telemundo’s “La Reina del Sur,” claimed she was blindsided by Penn’s request, as she was under the impression that the Oscar winner’s motive was to help her make a film about Guzman’s life.
After Penn’s account of the encounter landed in Rolling Stone, Del Castillo said she “never talked to him again” and was “totally destroyed,” accusing the “Mystic River” star of fabricating a scene from the piece in which Mexican soldiers confronted him, Del Castillo and two producers at a military checkpoint and then let them pass upon recognizing their companion, Guzman’s son, Alfredo Guzmán.
“It’s not true!” Del Castillo said. “He just put it there to sparkle a little bit, his stupid story. There was never a checkpoint. I hated him for that, but that’s why his article was full of s —.”
Representatives for Penn did not immediately respond Thursday to the Los Angeles Times’ request for comment.
While Penn and the producers were legally protected as members of the media on assignment for Rolling Stone, Mexican authorities began to investigate Del Castillo on suspicion of money laundering after their meetup with El Chapo.
The last time the world saw notorious drug trafficker Teresa Mendoza, she had narrowly evaded capture by Spanish police, survived a shootout that resulted in the death of her most loyal associate, publicly testified over the narcotrafficking roots of a prominent Mexican politician, then disappeared into the clutches of the U.S. witness protection program — all while pregnant with the child of a onetime lover whose death she had personally ordered.
As a result, Del Castillo was forced to leave her family and career in Mexico behind “to avoid persecution,” as Gloria Estefan put it. To this day, Del Castillo said she has “no savings” because “everything has gone to paying lawyers and still paying the Mexican government.”
Penn not only threw her under the bus, the TV star said, “he used me as a bait, and then he never protected me. And risked my life and my parents’ life and my sister’s life and everybody surrounding me.”
Del Castillo had previously communicated with the convicted drug trafficker after posting a controversial 2012 tweet declaring that she believed “more in El Chapo Guzmán” than “governments that hide truths from me,” to illustrate her disillusion with the Mexican government.
“Everybody here knows that if something happens to me or my family, it’s not el cartel. It’s going to be the Mexican government,” Del Castillo said on “Red Table Talk.” “I would take back that my parents and my family and all my friends they were scrutinized ... it was terrible.”
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.