LOS ANGELES » An attorney for actress Kate del Castillo said today she is willing to talk to Mexican authorities about her encounters with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and felt “betrayed” by actor Sean Penn, who wrote a lengthy article about his meeting with the drug kingpin after the actress introduced the two men.
The comments by Harland Braun, del Castillo’s U.S. lawyer, came after prosecutors in her native country issued an order for her to be located and brought in for questioning as part of a probe of possible money-laundering involving Guzman and the actress’ tequila business.
Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez confirmed that a summons had been issued for Del Castillo to testify. Gomez stressed she is officially considered a witness and has not been accused of any crime.
The clandestine meeting took place last October as del Castillo explored the possibility of developing a movie about the capo, and Penn’s Rolling Stone interview was published Jan. 9, a day after Guzman was recaptured in a raid in the city of Los Mochis.
“She didn’t know Penn was going to write for Rolling Stone. Would you meet with ‘El Chapo’ and approve to have the interview for publication?” Braun said. “After the interview she had no choice about it. Once Penn and Guzman agreed on the article, what was she going to do? She signed off after they had done so.”
“That’s what made her feel really betrayed by these people,” he said, referring to Penn and two people who accompanied him.
While Mexican officials have not sought to question Penn, Braun assured that his client is willing to talk.
“In the course of the investigation they are going to talk to her, right?” Braun said. “If we receive proper information and credentials, she’ll talk to them. She’s not hiding anything.”
Earlier Thursday, two Mexican security officials said federal prosecutors had issued the search order because the movie and telenovela star did not voluntarily appear before authorities to give a statement as requested. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The officials said the order applies only to Mexican territory and added that if del Castillo were found to be in the country, she would be detained to make a statement as a witness and then released after doing so.
Braun said del Castillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was currently in Los Angeles, where she has lived for years and feeling “a bit disappointed.” He declined to comment on her legal situation in Mexico or whether he had been contacted by U.S. authorities.
“All she wanted to do is a movie, and people are making a big deal about it,” Braun said.
Del Castillo recently sought a court injunction that would bar Mexican authorities from detaining her, although the judge asked her lawyers for more specifics before proceeding with the case.
In mid-January she tweeted that many people were making up “items they think will make good stories and that aren’t truthful,” and that she looked forward to telling her side of the story.
Mexican authorities say the October meeting between Guzman, del Castillo and Penn in the mountains of northwestern Mexico helped them locate the cartel leader, though he escaped arrest on that occasion.
The Mexican newspaper Milenio recently published a series of text messages between del Castillo and “El Chapo” in which the drug lord showed more interest in the actress than in Penn. The two had planned to meet again.
A federal official confirmed the messages were authentic.
Del Castillo has appeared in movies and TV shows produced in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere including “Weeds” and “La Reina del Sur,” in which she portrayed a powerful cartel boss. Last year she had a part in the feature film “The 33,” a fictional account of the 2010 Chilean mine collapse that trapped 33 miners underground for months.
Associated Press writer E. Eduardo Castillo reported from Mexico City.