January 10, 2016
So The DEA Sent Sean Penn To Get Al Chapo?
The Rolling Stones story in which actor Sean Penn meets and interviews the Mexican drug lord El Chapo is weird. Some of the details do not make sense. It smells.
El Chapo was recently (re-)captured in an large operation by Mexican marines together with U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agents.
Even more suspect than the Sean Penn piece itself is the fact that the NYT published a large front page piece on the the Rolling Stone story some minutes before the Rolling Stone story itself was published. Who gave it to the NYT and when? The NYT repeats essentials parts of the Penn piece but in a more polished version.
It also adds this to the overall story:
A Mexican government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential matters, said the authorities were aware of the meeting with Mr. Penn.
An AP reporter seems to have talked to the same anonymous Mexican official who suggests:
[A] Mexican official said security forces at one point located the world's most-wanted trafficker thanks to a secret interview with U.S. actor Sean Penn.
The NYT piece also has says this about the story:
In a disclosure that ran with the story, Rolling Stone said it had changed some names and withheld some locations. An understanding was reached with Mr. Guzmán, it said, that the story would be submitted for his approval, but he did not request any changes. The magazine declined to comment further Saturday.
But that is wrong. This is the actual Rolling Stones lawyerish wording:
Disclosure: Some names have had
to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes.
How come "the subject" has no name? Is it really El Chapo aka Mr. Guzmán or is it some three letter agency?
Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel also thinks that the story has a smell and that it seems that Penn was used, likely knowingly, by some agency to get El Chapo.
That is why the story has some of the weird angels Marcy finds. That the NYT hangs this piece of another magazine so high is part of the cover up of the DEA's Penn operation.
Go read Marcy for additional details.
Posted by b on January 10, 2016 at 02:09 PM | Permalink
more bollywood.. i would actually like to know what is going on in mexico..
Posted by: james | Jan 10, 2016 3:02:31 PM | 1
Sean Penn is to El Chapo what Debray was to Che Guevara.
Posted by: xmasucks | Jan 10, 2016 3:03:07 PM | 2
btw - i really enjoy emptywheel, but have said in the past my problem is it is too american centric for me..
Posted by: james | Jan 10, 2016 3:03:11 PM | 3
My guess is that the reach-out to the NYT is pentagon-papers like protection ... It is likely that there will hysterical cries to charge Penn with at least obstruction, etc. and he will cite his press pass/5th estate protections ...
From what I've read, Penn claimed no expertise in operational security and knew (was tipped, irrc) -- after the fact -- that the DEA was aware of his first trip ... there was a raid on El Chapo almost immediately thereafter... in October.
There are a lot of groups who really would like to focus on Penn and blame Penn in the public imagination for Guzman's take down -- to avoid looking at the escape and/or why it took from October to January to finally apprehend Guzman. The Penn-Haters are having a field-day.
The stupidity of the war on drugs and the tiny flicker of light at the end of the tunnel that some decriminalization might be in the offing (for the good of that society the DEA seek to "protect"), the jubilation at this celeb-tied-in capture is bizarre...
yup, they're making heroes out of fall-guys ...
Sounds like Guzman pictures himself as another Escobar ... I don't know enough or know who to trust to find out more wrt to his reported violent ruthlessness.
Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Jan 10, 2016 3:19:49 PM | 4
This one stinks to high heaven.
If Penn truly was part of "El Chapo's" arrest, his life expectancy has been shortened, he will have a nice looking corpse. If "El Chapo" is not extradited to the US soon after his arrest, corrupt Mexican authorities will expect $100 million for the next escape, against $50 million for the last one. "El Chapo" on the loose is a better business deal than in prison.
It looks like "El Chapo's" ego did him, he's expecting to see himself at the movies in a narco blockbuster that would spread his image across the world's narco slums, another inspiration for corner drug-dealers dreaming to make it big, like Pablo Escobar many movies and books have done so far.
We will have to wait for the dust to settle down to be able to see clearly through this potent mix of Hollywood reality show and the murky world of Mexican drug lords. Guess Sean Penn is smoking that potent Mexican shit lately. Get the popcorn ready.
Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 10, 2016 3:23:02 PM | 5
Weird angels indeed, especially because of this:
"An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel (led by Guzman, at least nominally) that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.
"Sinaloa, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S."
Did the Deep State make other arrangements? Did Guzman outlive his usefulness?
Posted by: NoOneYouKnow | Jan 10, 2016 3:47:03 PM | 6
I think "did he outlive his usefulness?" questions should be directed to Mexico who had been "not even considering" extraditing him ... and now he seems to be on an express train ...
U.S. officials had filed a formal extradition request for Guzmán only three weeks before his escape [in JULY, after how many years?], but the Mexican government previously resisted U.S. pressure to send him north, according to The New York Times.
When Enrique Peña Nieto became the president in 2012, his government initially adopted more of an arms-length approach to the United States on security cooperation than his predecessor had. That often meant taking a more assertive stance in matters of sovereignty, including a reluctance to turn over prisoners to the United States.
Almost exactly one year ago, Jesús Murillo Karam, the Mexican attorney general at the time, said: “I can accept extradition, but when I say so. El Chapo has to stay here and do his time, then I’ll extradite him. Some 300, 400 years later. That’s a lot of time.”
This time, however, officials seem to fear that Guzmán could use his considerable resources to free himself again. In 2001, Guzmán escaped from custody by bribing officials and hiding in a laundry basket as it was wheeled out of the prison.
If turned over to U.S. authorities, Guzmán would face indictments in seven different U.S. federal courts for drug trafficking and murder. The maximum sentence he would likely face if convicted is life imprisonment without parole. Mexico formally abolished capital punishment in 2005 and is one of many countries that refuses to extradite defendants to the United States unless prosecutors promise not to seek the death penalty.
note: "This time, however, officials seem to fear that Guzmán could use his considerable resources to free himself again." is pure conjecture ... my "pure conjecture" is if was a Team USA led bust tipped by the use of American ultrasurveillance ... or a "joint effort" that -- all things told -- did not go as well as it might have been expected to in October, Mexico is paying the price by allowing extradition.
Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Jan 10, 2016 4:23:18 PM | 7
Sean Penn was also a big booster for Hugo Chavez. Making personal visits. And then Pres Chavez got sick and died. Hmmmm. Now Guzman. Double-hmmmm. The only thing that's certain in this clusterfuck. Is that Penn works for more than just the media alphabets. Penn is a card-carrying neo-bolshie. And a nasty one too.
These scripts just write themselves. Look Ma. No hands...
Posted by: 4H | Jan 10, 2016 5:47:20 PM | 9
Either an interesting diversion from the norm, or someone is really trying to make a teapot out of a tempest?
Posted by: Rg an LG | Jan 10, 2016 6:14:49 PM | 10
It's possible, but it's also possible that Chapo's son or someone else close to him, snitched to gain control of billions of dollars in revenue.
Posted by: Cresty | Jan 10, 2016 6:32:20 PM | 11
OMG did Sean Penn kill Chavez?!
But seriously, did he?
Posted by: L Bean | Jan 10, 2016 6:38:54 PM | 12
@12 L Bean,
Even just having a look at the raw, uncut footage, without instructing the crew to try to forget to turn off the recording sometimes, could provide information enough to get in and slip the old heart-attack pill in with his usual pill burden. Did Sean Penn give a guided tour of Chavez's home to intelligence agencies? Did Kathryn Bigelow get special access to classified CIA records for block-buster propaganda purposes? Friendship works both ways...
Posted by: Jonathan | Jan 10, 2016 7:06:42 PM | 13
I just watched Oliver Stone's/Tariq Ali's South of the Border, It's a kind of a ragtag amalgam of Stone's trip through the states of the Bolivarian Republic, a nostalgic journey now, although I hope and believe the people of the states of South America will survive and rise again.
Washington brought the war on drugs to Bolivia, and President Morales kicked out the DEA ...
The pretext of the fight against drug trafficking, what's being implemented is a politics of control, not just against Bolivia, but many other Latin American countries. The War on Drugs is part of the United States' geopolitical interests.
I've got to admit that I gave Sean Penn a skip, and will continue to, regardless the NYTimes retweets of the Rolling Stone article. The pre-press retweet puts Rolling Stone in the same class as the NYTimes, doesn't it? How the mighty have fallen. The whole exercise seems a made for msm movie, starring Sean Penn. This particular Stone film is not as polished as his other efforts, but I'm sure it's head and shoulders above 'My interview with Cholo' starring Sean Penn.
Posted by: jfl | Jan 10, 2016 7:12:29 PM | 14
He liked to embrace Chavez intensely. Maybe he presented Chavez with some (CIA cancer virus) drink, Chavez naively drank. Chavez was an idealist, but he was very stupid in other aspects.. Look at Putin when was visited by DiCaprio and Steven Seagal, Putin was friendly and smiling, but he barely had the interest to greet them, let alone embrace.
Posted by: Nick | Jan 10, 2016 7:13:48 PM | 15
Maybe Mr. Penn can launder some money for "El Chapo", and bypass HSBC.
Posted by: ben | Jan 10, 2016 7:34:27 PM | 18
Thanks B. When I saw the perp walk I knew that wasn't El Chapo. Laughable. What a self important little turd Sean Penn is.
Posted by: Nana2007 | Jan 10, 2016 7:55:22 PM | 19
BTW, if someone remember this. The turd Sean Penn did a famous trip to Baghdad prior to the US invasion. How did that work out for Saddam?
Posted by: Nick | Jan 10, 2016 8:43:15 PM | 20
It's hilarious these fucks think we don't notice. "Oh Miz Scarlett. I don't know nuthin bout birthin no babies..." How many more times will they pull out the same fucking script? They don't even bother to change the cast. Like a Christopher Guest movie. Call it "Waiting for Guffman TO WAKE THE FUCK UP".
Idunno. This shit is getting really old. Wake me up when their heads start showing up on pikes. Preferably lining Memorial Bridge. Until then. I gotta go help Miz Scarlett.
Posted by: 4H | Jan 10, 2016 10:21:18 PM | 21
El Chapo made a good point: Unless you're pushing a lot of drugs in Mexico, you won't be able to make a decent wage.
Posted by: ruralito | Jan 10, 2016 10:44:23 PM | 22
Everybody in Mexico knows this was pure show, just in time to hide the harsh reality of the rapid peso devaluation against the dollar (the worse in the last 21 years), plummeting oil prices (at 1997 levels), the killing of yet another elected official in Morelos state and the widespread narco violence and corruption in the country. The new "capture" of El Chapo, a vulgar gunman of the real drug lords in Mexico and the US (well-connected businessmen, the armed forces and fat-cat politicians) is somewhat similar to the american prime time show of the "killing" of Osama bin Laden and other "public enemies" of the neo liberal/neo conservative global stablishment.
Posted by: guy | Jan 10, 2016 10:48:32 PM | 23
@4H,"Sean Penn was also a big booster for Hugo Chavez. Making personal visits. And then Pres Chavez got sick and died. Hmmmm. Now Guzman. Double-hmmmm. The only thing that's certain in this clusterfuck. Is that Penn works for more than just the media alphabets"
So, he is an imperial agent, got it.
"Penn is a card-carrying neo-bolshie. And a nasty one too."
Posted by: ruralito | Jan 10, 2016 10:52:49 PM | 24
Guy @ 23: " El Chapo, a vulgar gunman of the real drug lords in Mexico and the US (well-connected businessmen, the armed forces and fat-cat politicians)"
An absolute truth we shouldn't lose sight of, despite the S. Penn theater.
Posted by: ben | Jan 10, 2016 11:04:32 PM | 25
Question: Will El Chapo get a star at Langley or Tel Aviv when he dies? What about Sean Penn? Any guesses?
Posted by: 4H | Jan 10, 2016 11:19:54 PM | 26
Gotta wonder what El Chapo did that put him offside with the DEA. Did he wake up one day and realise he had a conscience and could turn over a new leaf?
Posted by: Jen | Jan 10, 2016 11:34:59 PM | 27
All these comments about Sean Penn and the people he met are so interesting ... did he meet Alexander Litvinenko in London by any chance???
Posted by: Jen | Jan 10, 2016 11:36:21 PM | 28
He would not be the first Hollywood's ham actor to be a CIA agent. If I recall Ronnie Reagan was one..Maybe will to be him the next Dem president in 2024.
Posted by: Nick | Jan 10, 2016 11:42:44 PM | 29
El Chapo was probably taking more than his cut from the alphabet ageny largesse, or blackmailing an American; something serious like that.
Posted by: L Bean | Jan 10, 2016 11:51:20 PM | 30
Why didn't Sean Penn tell El Chapo that his brother had been a drug addict that likely died from an addition to pain killers?
(Note: we don't really know what drugs his brother was taking when he died as it seems clear that his drug use was hushed up - but we do know that he had been addicted to cocaine in the past - see below).
Sean Penn takes pains to offer El Chapo what seems like full disclosure - by describing his DEA and government connections - but doesn't mention THAT?!? And, whether he told El Chapo or not, why doesn't he tell his readers of his first-hand knowledge of the tragedy of drug use (his own and those close to him)?
At first, I wasn't very interested in this story. But I got to thinking: why does Sean Penn give a sh*t??? Speculation that Penn might be CIA is mildly interesting but not very convincing. I doubt that a celebrity would be ORDERED to do something like this. Yet this 'project' wasn't consistent with Sean Penn's past activism (traveling to Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, his work with Haiti, etc.). Was Penn hoping to gain the inside track for the lead in a movie?
But finding that his brother was an addict and likely died from drug use raises a whole host of other questions (note: his death was officially blamed on heart disease - but masking the cause of death is not uncommon for a prominent family).
Is this common knowledge? Is everyone expected to know of Sean Penn's prior drug use and the drug use of his younger brother?
Chris Penn admitted to a cocaine addiction:
As he told this newspaper in a 1996 interview, he was addicted to cocaine for five years - and had to struggle mightily to come back...
[Chris] Penn was found dead in his Santa Monica condominium on January 24, 2006, at the age of 40. Although Penn had used multiple drugs in the past, an autopsy performed by a Los Angeles County medical examiner revealed the primary cause of death was "nonspecific cardiomyopathy" (heart disease), with the prescription drug promethazine with codeine and an enlarged heart due to obesity being possible contributing circumstances.
The 'Talk' section of the wiki entry includes this (said to be from the Santa Monica Daily Press):
...[neighbors] weren’t surprised once the news was released. “I just knew it,” said one neighbor, who declined to give her name. “I had a feeling.” Many neighbors said they had been watching Penn’s health decline for several months. “There was a lot of erratic behavior, and I would see him in the middle of the day totally wasted,” said a neighbor, who only identified himself as Mike. “He’d get pretty amped up.” The neighbor added that Penn, the younger brother of actor Sean Penn, had gained a lot of weight and was barely recognizable. “I never saw him healthy,” said a neighbor who lives next door. “You knew he was hurting.” An employee at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, located just a block away from Penn’s oceanview condo, said he saw Penn frequently at the hotel in the morning drinking. Another passerby who heard the news said he was shocked and saddened by Penn’s death. “That sucks, he was fun to watch,” he said.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 11, 2016 12:32:44 AM | 31
Penn seems to have had contacts with the CIA over Haiti in 2012 in a very brief acknowledgement from Hillary’s emails.
And if Penn was the CIA agent who passed Chavez the polonium drink. So, the guy is real life psycho. Poor Chavez, the guy was an idealist, but also was a stupid. He should have taken lessons from Fidel or Putin to avoid falling into traps.
Posted by: Nick | Jan 11, 2016 1:58:50 AM | 32
People Magazine reports on first Sean Penn interview after brother's death:
>> Sean Penn says that he and his brother were "very close";
>> Sean Penn blames death on weight (Chris Penn was 300 lbs);
>> says his brother "had certainly been a fantastically self-abusing guy over periods of his life, but that wasn't [the cause of death]";
>> "Valium, morphine and marijuana as well as an antihistamine and a high level of codeine" were found in Chris Penn's system.
Codeine is also available in conjunction with the anti-nausea medication promethazine in the form of a syrup...
Called 'syrup', 'lean', or 'purple drank', this medication is quickly becoming one of the most commonly misused codeine preparations. Rapper Pimp C, from the group UGK, died from an overdose of this combination.
... enzyme induction leading to greater hepatic conversion of codeine to morphine is the reason for both the clinical and recreational use of promethazine with codeine.
Chris Penn was know to abuse alcohol and had been addicted to cocaine (including crack). At the time of his death, it seems that he was likely to have been using/abusing alcohol, pot, and prescription medications. (Note: Antihistamine is known to increase the effect of Valium.)
When abused, opiates like codeine and morphine can cause death, even in a healthy person. Taken as a whole, his substance abuse was a ticking time bomb. And even before it killed him, it probably ruined his life.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 11, 2016 3:14:12 AM | 33
Wow, Tom Clancy has nothing on you! Better quit your day job and write the Great American Spy Novel!
Penn is the only US actor or agent for that matter with the street cred, having worked in Haiti long after all the gilded lilies faded and withdrew, to meet with ElC, and in all likelihood was gathering dialogue, mannerisms and key storylines to write, produce, direct and act in the ElC story.
There were 100s of other persons involved in setting up the meet, and a gringo of Penn's stature would have been pointed at and whispered about long before he got there. I thought the use of faux email accounts, shared coded passwords and unsent draft messages typed back and forth was clever. Everyone in the business has a box of throw-away hockey puck cell phones, that's an old trick.
No doubt ElC realized that with a bounty on his head, it was just a matter of time until he died in a hail of bullets, he probably wants to be extradicted to the US to serve his time in a comfortable isolation section of a modern prison with internet and healthcare, instead of getting shanked.
All the rest is just the Federales protecting their rats and their surveillance methods by blaming it on Penn, knowing the US ZioMedia will latch on that storyline for the Hollywood clickthrus, we'll probably see some Senators up for re-election hold a very public committee meeting on whether Penn committed 'treason', or whatever passes for definition of 'treason' in the belly of Great Shaytan.
It's a media circus, and now you're in it too!! Where's the war pron pics from the arrest scene?
Posted by: Chipnik | Jan 11, 2016 4:08:36 AM | 34
In medieval times an actor was considered a low life on the level of prostitutes doing things with their mouth and bodies for amusement and money. Old new is coming back. Who came up with idea of paying tons of money to anyone who makes fool of himself in front of people. Guzman proven himself to be an idiot, brutal idiot as well. He hired freshly laid off fracking engineers built mile long tunnel and have himself conned by jobless alcoholic in search for fix.
Let see if it pays off and whether his role as FBI agent gets noticed in Patriotic Hollywood.
Posted by: Kalen | Jan 11, 2016 5:40:29 AM | 35
"The government is Chapo’s,” said Genero Reyes Martínez, 30, in Mexico City. “I bet he walked straight out of the main gate. That tunnel was an illusion.”
is Penn an entertainment industry liaison dupe? quién sabe?
In this town, you’re innocent until investigated (Christopher Plummer to George Clooney in 'Syriana')
Posted by: john | Jan 11, 2016 6:06:30 AM | 36
Chapo wouldn't be anybody if the DEA didn't exist... Mutual dependence is the issue here. I reserve my god given right to put any substance I want to, into my own body. The entire Mexican cartel could never kill as many people every year as the pharma industry. Use this substance, its FDA approved. Trust us, we care.
At least when it comes to the illegal stuff, if it isn't entirely organic, I can easily find out how its made, and can get a reasonable idea of what I am consuming.
Legalizing all drugs is the only way to get rid of the dodgy cartels and dealers, and completely neauter big pharma.
Posted by: Dan | Jan 11, 2016 6:23:09 AM | 37
@ 5 Lone Wolf.
That's what I think - now his has a target on his back. However, I disagree with b on this one. Me thinks that Sean Penn got "taken" by the Mexican Soap Opera Senora who wants to make it in the American studios - on the big screen and TV. She must be that double agent. Sean Penn is well aware how the alphabetical agencies treated his father ( WWII soldier and actor) and his friends during the Mc Carthy years.
Posted by: Yul | Jan 11, 2016 8:07:20 AM | 38
Neretva'43 @ 39
a million laughs
Posted by: john | Jan 11, 2016 9:17:18 AM | 40
That is why the story has some of the weird angels Marcy finds.
Wonder if b meant "weird angles" and not "weird angels." There are no angels around a meeting with "el Chapo," angels of death maybe?
Posted by: Lone Wolf | Jan 11, 2016 9:23:23 AM | 41
33;Abusing the drugs is the whole point of their being.We like to get high!Or some of us.
Mexico and its chaos is an unaddressed sore on the American peoples(and of course Mexico's)back,the source of all the undocumented immigrants(via Mexico for some)coming over our borders.I guess Carlos slim tells the lying times hands off!
Posted by: dahoit | Jan 11, 2016 10:03:12 AM | 43
@17 all to true and loved his white lines while in Haiti...
Posted by: Kevin | Jan 11, 2016 10:25:26 AM | 44
nope. those boys dont play - i predict an extremely gruesome corpse.
Posted by: sillybill | Jan 11, 2016 5:42:44 PM | 45
Jeb! and Kasich were paid consultants as they saw the transfer of their respective state's pension funds to Lehman. All was lost. (Federal Pension Guarantee Backstopped some of the losses).
Jeb!, while employed at Lehman Bros tried to get family friend Carlos Slim to bail out Lehman before it crashed. Carlos wouldn't bite.
Posted by: fast freddy | Jan 11, 2016 6:23:54 PM | 46
The motivation for writing both of these verbosely obscurantist articles wouldn't exist were it not for the Fake War on Drugs. I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to wade all the way through either of them only to discover that something the USG was up to its nostrils in probably contained elements of criminality, treason, bullshit, betrayal, blackmail, bribery and secrecy, would have been too anti-climactic.
In AmeriKKKa, money buys respectability, and politicians who'll do and say anything for money. Until that problem is fixed any consequent problems can safely be attributed to a puzzling addiction to Collective Masochism.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 11, 2016 10:05:40 PM | 47
I highly doubt Sean Penn is a CIA asset or would be dumb enough to involve himself in a plot to capture El Choppo and get his head removed with a chainsaw for his trouble. What could he possibly have to gain putting his life at risk like that? I imagine the reason El Chapo chose him to do the interview was precisely because his involvement with Chavez, Morales and other Latin American leaders gave him some street cred.
It's quite possible Chavez died of natural causes, and not some cancer virus slipped to him by Sean Penn.
The Mexican government is on record as saying they knew where Guzman was even before Penn showed up, but refrained from capturing him due to the fact he was in the presence of women and children. Take that assertion with all the salt you like, but the fact remains that if Rolling Stone could locate this guy, so could the CIA and Mexican authorities. No doubt they will shake him down for muchas mordidas and let him slip away again.
Posted by: Sean | Jan 18, 2016 11:07:08 PM | 49