The world learned that Sean Penn had a secret meeting with notorious fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in a Mexican hideaway when the actor's magazine article about it broke. But current and former officials from the U.S. and Mexico confirm that the Mexican authorities tracking the drug lord's communications knew all along the actor was going there and when he landed in Mexico to visit Guzman with actress Kate del Castillo. These and other details of the recapture of the cartel leader, including the only television interview with the Mexican Marines who conducted the raid and ultimately arrested him, appear in Bill Whitaker's story on 60 Minutes Sunday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Agreeing to meet with Penn and the actress he apparently had a crush on was part of a reckless pattern that led to Guzman's capture says one former U.S. official who worked for the U.S. Justice Department and Homeland security. "He became drunk on his own wine," says Peter Vincent of the fugitive's mindset after escaping prison a second time. "He started to believe the hype... he thought he was untouchable."
Jim Dinkins, chief of Homeland Security Investigations when Guzman was captured the first time in 2014, found the fugitive's movements difficult to fathom. He had eluded capture for 13 years after his first escape; he knew better. "Here he gets out of prison and he's on the road being spotted at this place having...drinks and this place...with his family members," he tells Whitaker. Did Mexican law enforcement know he invited Penn and Castillo to his hideout? "They knew... where Sean was going to go, when he was going to land. They knew right away."
Whitaker reports from the hideout in Mexico that was raided and traces the drug cartel leader's attempted escape through the sewer system accessed through a secret door. It's where Guzman ran into a problem. "After 20 minutes of rain, we thought the Chapo may...drown in the sewers because of the high level of the water," said one of the Mexican Marines who arrested him later. In security camera video obtained by 60 Minutes, Guzman is seen popping out of a manhole on a busy street a half mile from the hideout. "That was his only option," said the marine, who is not identified for security reasons.
Guzman and a bodyguard were eventually detained by Mexican Federal police who drove them to a motel parking lot for a suspicious period of time, enough time speculates Vincent, for Guzman to try to make a deal with his captors. "Bribes and threats, bribes and bullets," he says. "And luckily the Mexican Marines showed up, realized what was going on and took control of the situation," says Vincent.