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Sunday 25 February 2018

Sean Penn: I have nothing to hide over meeting with Mexican drug lord

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted to a helicopter in handcuffs by soldiers and marines (AP)
Actor Sean Penn interviewed drug lord Joaquin Guzman in Mexico

Hollywood actor Sean Penn has expressed no regrets about his clandestine visit to interview Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Guzman was captured last Friday, more than three months after Penn met him in central Mexico and six months after escaping from prison.

Penn told the AP he was worried that officials were monitoring his trip to interview Guzman - and photographs published in t he Mexican newspaper El Universal now confirm his suspicions.

The pictures appear to show Penn and actress Kate Del Castillo arriving at an airport in October and greeting the men who apparently took them to a small airstrip, from which they flew to the jungle camp to meet Guzman.

The newspaper said the pictures were part of a Mexican government intelligence file that it obtained.

It said the file indicated that Mexican agents had been photographing Del Castillo since her first meeting with Guzman's lawyers in the city of Guadalajara, on June 16.

On Monday Penn insisted: "I've got nothin' to hide."

Mexican authorities say Penn's contacts with Guzman helped them track the fugitive down - even if he slipped away from an initial raid on the hideout where the Hollywood actor apparently met him.

The process of extraditing Guzman to the US has begun after he was recaptured following a dramatic, months-long hunt which ended in a shoot-out between gunmen and Mexican marines at a house in Los Mochis, a seaside city in his home state of Sinaloa.

Five suspects were killed and six others arrested. One marine was injured.

The attorney general's office said Mexican agents assigned to the international police agency Interpol served two arrest warrants to the drug lord, who is being held at the Altiplano prison following his capture.

Officials warned the extradition process could take a long time as Guzman's lawyers file legal appeals and manoeuvre to keep their client in Mexico, where he has already escaped from maximum security prisons twice.

Guzman's defence now has three days to present arguments against extradition and 20 days to present supporting evidence, beyond the many other appeals they have already started filing.

Guzman's powerful Sinaloa cartel smuggles huge shipments of cocaine and marijuana as well as manufacturing and transporting methamphetamines and heroin, mostly to the US.

He is wanted in various US states and his July escape deeply embarrassed the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto and strained ties between the countries.

Press Association

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