Mexican-born American actress Kate del Castillo said in a televised interview that drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman probably was in love with the powerful, tequila-drinking drug trafficker she portrayed in the 2011 telenovela “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South), which would explain his interest in her.
“I don’t think it was necessarily me, Kate del Castillo … It was more that he … probably had a crush on Teresa Mendoza in a way because he loved that series so much,” Del Castillo said in the interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer that aired Friday night.
“La Reina del Sur,” a Spanish-language telenovela produced by American television network Telemundo, catapulted Del Castillo to stardom in the United States.
Del Castillo and American actor Sean Penn met with the Sinaloa drug lord last October while he was a fugitive.
The Mexican-born actress has said she went to Guzman’s jungle hideout because she had been offered the rights to a biopic about his life through contacts with his attorneys that predated Guzman’s escape from prison last July.
While at the hideout, she said in an earlier interview with The New Yorker, she was taken aback to find out that Penn wanted to interview El Chapo for a Rolling Stone article, which was published a day after Guzman was recaptured.
Asked by Sawyer if she knew she was under surveillance by Mexican authorities, Del Castillo said “she didn’t think about it.”
“I thought (Guzman) knew what he was doing by texting me. If I knew I was being followed I would have never gone down there because it’s a lot of risk. Not only my life, but everybody’s life.”
Prosecutors in Mexico are investigating whether the actress, who has lived for several years in Los Angeles and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, received funds for a boutique tequila brand or the filming of a biopic about Guzman’s life.
Del Castillo was invited to serve as the image of Tequila Honor LLC, but that Mexican company says on its Web site that it has been exclusively funded by its founders and that the actress has no ownership stake.
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, Guzman’s 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.