Mexico: Sean Penn's meeting with 'El Chapo' was key to capture

Story highlights

  • Actor Sean Penn interviewed Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in a Mexican jungle in October
  • El Universal publishes photographs that purportedly show Penn and Kate del Castillo
  • A Mexican official tells CNN the pictures are legitimate

(CNN)Actor Sean Penn's secret meeting and interview with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was "essential" for the drug lord's capture, according to Mexico's attorney general.

Arely Gomez Gonzalez spoke Monday, the same day Mexico's El Universal newspaper published photographs that show Penn and Kate del Castillo -- a Mexican actress who helped broker the interview -- reportedly arriving in Guadalajara, Mexico, ahead of meeting with Guzman.
    A Mexican official told CNN the pictures are legitimate and were taken by Mexican intelligence teams. The photographs bolster the idea that authorities were tracking Penn's movements in a bid to find the elusive Guzman.
    'El Chapo' secretly met Sean Penn before his arrest
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    In an article published Saturday by Rolling Stone magazine, Penn revealed that he interviewed then-fugitive Guzman in a Mexican jungle in October.
    He wrote that he was flown aboard a small plane that had a device that jams radar.
    The images published by El Universal show del Castillo meeting with Guzman's attorneys. They also reportedly show the actress traveling with Penn, and the plane they took to meet the kingpin.
    Before the interview came to light, two U.S. law enforcement officials had said the tracking of cell phones and electronic exchanges of people close to Guzman led to his recapture.
    'El Chapo' back in the prison he escaped from
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    Mexican authorities had said they captured Guzman partly because his representatives contacted filmmakers and actors about making his biopic.
    The drug lord was recaptured in his native Sinaloa state early Friday after a shootout that killed six of his people.
    He's back in the same maximum-security prison from which he escaped last year and faces possible extradition to the United States.