White House Responds To El Chapo's Rolling Stone Interview

By May Wilkerson 01/11/16

Color the Obama administration unimpressed with the drug lord's secret interview with actor Sean Penn.

 Barack Obama

Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera boasted about his drug empire in a Rolling Stone interview, and the White House is not impressed.

“I supply more heroin, [meth], cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world,” said Guzmán, in a secret interview with actor Sean Penn from September, published Saturday, after the drug lord’s capture. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough responded: “I was appalled by his bragging ... about an epidemic that’s sweeping this country on heroin addiction,” he said on ABC’s This Week.

McDonough also said on CNN’s State of the Union that the comments were “maddening” given the devastating impact of drugs in the United States. “We see a heroin epidemic, opioid addiction epidemic in this country,” he said. “So, we’re going to stay on top of this, with our Mexican counterparts, until we get that back in the box. ”

Guzmán, the head of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, was recaptured on Friday after a worldwide manhunt following his escape from a maximum-security prison in July. In October, while he was still on the lam, the drug lord met with Penn in person somewhere in Mexico. The meeting reportedly lasted seven hours and began with the two embracing. "He pulls me into a 'compadre' hug, looks me in the eyes and speaks a lengthy greeting in Spanish too fast for my ears," Penn wrote.

During the interview, the two covered a range of topics, including the U.S. presidential election (Guzmán is a Trump supporter). The drug lord defended his drug business, claiming he had no choice due to the Mexican economy and a lack of jobs. When asked if he feels responsible for the high rates of drug addiction, he said: “No, that is false, because the day I don’t exist, it’s not going to decrease in any way at all. Drug trafficking? That’s false.”

According to Mexican authorities, the actor’s contact with Guzmán helped them track the fugitive down after months in hiding, though he initially escaped a raid on the hideout where he and Penn met. Guzmán was finally captured after a shootout in the Mexican coastal city of Los Mochis, where many local residents were reportedly protecting him, believing him to be a heroic Robin Hood-type figure.

Mexico has reportedly begun the process of extraditing "El Chapo" to the United States, a process which could take “one year or longer,” according to the head of Mexico’s extradition office, Manuel Merino.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.