Mexican-born American actress Kate del Castillo told CNN en Español she had no concerns about the Sinaloa cartel after meeting last year with then-fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who was recaptured shortly afterward, but was worried about the Mexican government’s actions in the wake of those contacts.
“I’m not afraid of the cartel. That’s not my fear. I’m not afraid of Mr. Guzman or his people. For some reason, I’m not afraid of that. I’m afraid of the Mexican government,” Del Castillo said in an interview with Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui.
The first part was broadcast on Tuesday and the second will air on Wednesday night.
The actress, who has lived for several years in Los Angeles and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, said she did not recognize herself in many of the messages that she exchanged with Guzman and which the Mexican government has released, adding that they had been “manipulated” or “taken out of context.”
She also reiterated that her only objective in meeting with the Sinaloa cartel chief, who received a small group that included her and American actor Sean Penn at his hideout in October 2015, was to discuss a film about Guzman’s life, a project she says is still in the works.
Del Castillo, who said in a recent interview with The New Yorker that El Chapo got in contact with her through his attorneys before escaping from a maximum-security prison in July 2015 and gave her the rights to a potential biopic, told Aristegui in Los Angeles that Guzman would not have the final say over the film’s content.
“I’m interested in knowing how a boy becomes that person because he doesn’t do it by himself,” said the actress, who portrayed a powerful, tequila-drinking drug trafficker in the 2011 telenovela “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South), produced by U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo.
“When does that person become corrupted and how does he become the drug trafficker he is? Because, I repeat, he can’t do it by himself. There have to be key people – in key places, in key positions – who are helping him do all of that,” she added.
The actress, who is being investigated by Mexican federal prosecutors for allegedly accepting illicit money from Guzman for a tequila company she represents, said repeatedly during the interview that the Mexican government was out to destroy her for establishing contact with Guzman.
She also called the leaking of text messages by Mexican authorities “completely illegal,” saying that communication was evidence and that they were putting her in a “very vulnerable position.”
“I’m not the only one who texted with him. Why aren’t they releasing the texts of other people? Why are they only pursuing me? Not Sean Penn and the other producers” involved in the proposed biopic, she asked.
Guzman escaped last July through a 1.5-kilometer-long (0.9-mile-long) tunnel dug to his prison cell but was recaptured on Jan. 8 in his home state of Sinaloa and sent back to the same prison outside Mexico City.
He had earlier broken out of a prison in the western state of Jalisco in 2001 and spent more than 13 years on the run before being recaptured on Feb. 22, 2014, in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan.
Under his command, the Sinaloa cartel rose to become one of the main sources of illicit drugs entering the United States, and the Mexican kingpin’s wealth led to his name regularly appearing on Forbes magazine’s list of global billionaires.
Guzman, who had been one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives, faces dozens of drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges in federal courts in Arizona, Texas, California, Illinois, Florida and New York.