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Kate del Castillo, mexican actress. Photo: Getty Images
Mexican actress Kate del Castillo's successful film and TV career took a back seat to her relationship with "El Chapo Guzmán". Photo: Getty Images

Kate del Castillo and 'El Chapo' Guzmán, a new twist

Packing everything to be a Hollywood hit, this real-life story is better than fiction.

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The story’s first episode was 10 years ago. Mexican actress Kate del Castillo had just finished shooting for her successful soap opera La Reina del Sur [Queen of the South]. After some days off, she decided to write an open letter on Twitter, which became viral in just a few hours.

La Reina del Sur wrote in her extensive tweet: “Today, I believe more in 'El Chapo' Guzmán than in governments that hide truths from me.” A decade later, the story is coming back to the headlines for different reasons. One of them is that a life sentence was confirmed for Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias 'El Chapo' in the United States. Another is that del Castillo will be shooting the second part of La Reina del Sur. The most thrilling part is that new details came to the surface on the legal investigation by the Mexican criminal justice on the actress between 2015 and 2017, due to her relationship with El Chapo. 

The Attorney General’s Office insisted that the actress had created a criminal bond with the drug lord. She was investigated for money laundering and organized crime, as she allegedly had received money from the Sinaloa Cartel to finance a movie about El Chapo and his tequila business. Neither could be confirmed, nor her involvement in covering for the drug trafficker so he could remain in hiding for months. 

El Chapo first approached the actress in 2014. At the time, the drug dealer was serving a sentence for drug trafficking in a Mexican prison. The reason was simple, her tweet was running through his head, and he decided to give her the rights to his life story. Their exchanges were through notes that their lawyers transmitted, and text messages on a cell phone given to her exclusively to talk to him.  

The project would have been successful, but months later after their first encounter, he escaped from jail in a movie-like way. Two months later, he contacted her again, from underground. Later came their encounter. The secret trip — the meeting somewhere in Mexico with the most wanted man in the world was captured in a picture of El Chapo, Kate and the actor Sean Penn, who at that point was involved in the project.

What they didn’t know was that Mexican authorities were already following del Castillo. They found out about their meeting through El Chapo’s lawyers. Investigators were at the hotel where the actress, Penn and two other producers for the project came out to their meeting with him in October 2015.

When the drug lord was captured again on Jan. 9, 2016, the project went under because it came to be known that the meeting with producers and actors for the movie was precisely what tipped the authorities off on his whereabouts. 

It was just a matter of time to know the names of such actors and producers, and then the subsequent articles by Sean Penn in Rolling Stone, Kate del Castillo in the Mexican magazine Proceso, and the Netflix documentary, The day I met El Chapo.

A decade later, the story is coming back to the headlines for different reasons.

Accusations passed between Penn and del Castillo for "betraying" trust and the project went back and forth, while Mexican justice insisted on investigating the actress, which was a chase with no valid argument that kept her away from her country for several years. According to one of the judges that handled the case; not having concrete legal evidence, the Prosecutor’s Office leaked information to the press that connected El Chapo and the actress as "a way to penalize her disproportionately."

According to journalist Alan Feuer, author of El Jefe: The stalking of El Chapo Guzmán, even today, the drug lord keeps on trying to sell his movie.

“I cannot say how I know, but he was absolutely looking forward to making this movie to this day,” said Feuer in 2020.

Today, a conviction of life is one more episode of the movie-like story of Sinaloa Cartel’s drug lord. Some more years will pass until the movie finally becomes a reality. 

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