That actor Sean Penn was able to locate escaped drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, and to also get the outlaw to agree to be interviewed could be taken for fiction if the whole story and video footage weren't then made widely available via Rolling Stone's Saturday feature. Yet despite the wildness of the development in the case of the Mexican drug lord, Penn's investigative journalistic successes aren't the most surprising element of the story.
The real mind-bending aspect of the whole feature is the way in which the interview rips down a proverbial facade erected around Guzmán.
The resulting reveal is a gentler, more agreeable man than one might expect from one of the world's most notorious criminals. In some ways, Penn's interview of Guzmán paints the picture of a family man capable of love and affection, albeit a picture constructed by Guzmán himself. In other words, Guzmán doesn't seem to think he's the villain everyone makes him out to be — just a guy doing what he has to do to get by.
CNN names Guzmán as the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which the network says is "widely believed" to distribute more heroin and cocaine to the U.S. than any other cartel. According to the BCC, the Sinaloa cartel routinely carries out "pitiless violence," the brutality of which some argue Guzmán is culpable.
Yet, in the Penn interview, Mexico's most wanted man is nothing like the violent ringleader many might imagine.
His relationship with his mother? "Perfect," Guzmán said in the interview. "Very well," one of "respect, affection and love."
Does he think of himself as a violent man? "No, sir." Well, if not violent, what about prone to violence? "All I do is defend myself, nothing more. But do I start trouble? Never." And when asked about his visions for the future, Guzmán said all he dreams of is his freedom, and, in his own words, "to live with my family the days God gives me."
"I can say it's normal that people have mixed feelings because some people know me and others don't," Guzmán said in the Rolling Stone piece. "That is the reason I say it is normal. Because those who do not know me can have their doubts about saying if, in this case, I'm a good person or not."
Guzmán made his first escape from prison in 2001, and his second jailbreak on July 11, 2015, through a hole in a shower stall at Altiplano Federal Prison.
On Friday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced in a tweet that Guzmán had been captured. "Mission accomplished: we have him," Nieto said in the tweet. "I want to inform the Mexican people that Joaquín Guzmán Loera has been arrested."