Soap opera actress Kate del Castillo has been summoned to appear before Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to testify about her relationship and contacts with Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera.
Authorities over the weekend began to investigate whether Del Castillo received money from the recently recaptured drug lord during the months that they were in secret contact while he was on the run, the PRG said.
Prosecutors are specifically investigating whether the actress had any business ties to El Chapo in relation to the promotion of her own tequila label, Honor del Castillo, or if he had given her money for the film she was planning to produce about his life.
Del Castillo last October took Hollywood actor Sean Penn to meet El Chapo in one of his hideouts in the mountains of Durango state. Their clandestine dinner was the subject of Penn’s firsthand account that was published in Rolling Stone magazine on January 9, the day after El Chapo was recaptured.
On Monday, Mexico City daily El Universal published a series of text messages between Del Castillo – who became famous for her portrayal of a female drug trafficker in soap opera La reina del sur – and Andrés Granados, one of El Chapo’s lawyers.
The actress told Granados that it “would be wonderful” if El Chapo could invest in a tequila business she was planning. She sent publicity photos of the tequila brand so that they could be passed along to El Chapo.
The exchange of text messages took place on April 15, 2015, but this was not the first time that the Mexican actress and the Sinaloa cartel chief had been in contact.
Del Castillo is expected to give her statements at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles
Eight months ago, Del Castillo and Guzmán kept in touch through cellphone messages and letters. Authorities monitored these communications in order to see if they could find where El Chapo was hiding out.
Guzmán Loera, who is one of the world’s most powerful drug lords and is wanted in the United States, escaped from a maximum security prison on July 11 by fleeing through a 1.5-kilometer-long tunnel dug under his cell. He had been captured in Sinaloa in February 2014.
Since the friendship between El Chapo and Del Castillo was made public after the release of recorded conversations and text messages, the Mexican actress has been thrust into the spotlight. In one conversation, El Chapo tells the actress: “I will take care of you more than I do my own eyes.”
Authorities were reportedly able to recapture Guzmán after they traced a series of phone calls and contacts that were made last September to prepare for the secret meeting between Penn and the notorious drug trafficker.
Del Castillo, who lives in Los Angeles, has yet to give her own account about her relationship with El Chapo. She will not have to return to Mexico to testify but is expected to give her statements at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.
English version by Martin Delfín.
The conversations between Del Castillo and El Chapo’s lawyer
These are the text conversations between Kate del Castillo and El Chapo's lawyer Andrés Granados Flores that were monitored by Mexican intelligence services and published by El Universal newspaper.
April 15, 2015
Lawyer: I haven't been able to speak to the boss about your tequila project. He is interested in your proposal. What do you think?
Del Castillo: Wow… it would be great. I will send you something right now. I hope I will be able to show it to him. That would make me so happy.
Lawyer: Let's see.
[The actress sends a publicity campaign for the tequila, including a video.]
Lawyer: That's a great video.
Del Castillo: There are two different ones. Right now I am tasting the latest samples. I am very excited.
Lawyer: Wow, that's great. I will talk to him about your tequila project. Maybe you can become partners. Won't hurt to ask.
Del Castillo: Awesome.
July 10, 2015. The day before El Chapo escapes from Altiplano prison.
Lawyer: We need your friend to send us the contract to see how it's going to be arranged. Please ask him if the papers are ready. Thank you. Have a great day and greetings from Mr Guzmán.
Del Castillo: OK. Thank you counsel. You too.
July 15, 2015. El Chapo has been on the run for five days.
Del Castillo: Sir?
Lawyer: Yes, miss?
Del Castillo: No, nothing. Not here. All the best.
Lawyer: You heard the news?
Del Castillo: Yes.
Lawyer: That's great. I am celebrating, ha ha ha.
Del Castillo: I am celebrating even more.