Saturday night, Rolling Stone published a story written by actor Sean Penn about his efforts to interview notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera — known as El Chapo — that apparently contributed to El Chapo’s arrest last week – following his tunneling-out escape from Altiplano prison last summer.It’s a wild tale of Hollywood connections – jungle hide-outs – military shoot-outs and BlackBerry messaging.‘Sean Penn interview led authorities to El Chapo’ might already be the strangest headline of 2016 — but the story gets even stranger from there.This entire caper reads like a chapter from a lost Elmore Leonard novel.
Here the bizarre highlights of the Rolling Stone story which is definitely worth the read:
1. That it happened at all. That week last September Manhattan was lousy with security — the U.N. General Assembly was in session – the Pope had just blown through town and Mexico’s own president Enrique Peña Nieto is in the same hotel where Sean Penn and his buddy – a man known only as Espinoza (‘Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons’ whatever that means) hatch their plan to connect with a contact who will set up the meeting.
An operation like this requires burner phones – codes – encryption — a self-described ‘clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing’.
Sean Penn doesn’t know how laptops work. (‘Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea!’)
He’s like Walter White in the first season of ‘Breaking Bad’ but with less education.
How does an actor manage to score an interview with a fugitive cartel leader in the first place?
A Mexican soap star with a flair for Twitter dramatics — whom El Chapo – a fan – has entrusted to see his story brought to Hollywood — helped broker the deal of course.
(There’s a product placement for the tequila she’s marketing about a quarter of the way into the story.)