The Mexican publication Milenio had a great scoop today: They got their hands on text messages exchanged between recently reimprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Kate del Castillo, the Mexican actress who brokered his meeting with Sean Penn. That meeting and interview, published in Rolling Stone, led to El Chapo’s arrest on Friday.
According to Milenio, the text messages were sent over a series of encrypted BlackBerry devices. Throughout, El Chapo strikes an affectionate, at times romantic, tone with del Castillo, who reciprocates. How much of what either of them text is genuine romantic sentiment, we’ll never know. What we do know is that when Mexican marines raided El Chapo's hideout they found the entire collection of del Castillo’s narconovela TV series, La Reina del Sur, in which she plays a drug lord who drinks, smokes, curses, and doesn’t hesitate to kill or torture whoever gets in her way.
The Mexican government confirmed for Telemundo that the texts are legitimate. Below are some translated highlights:
Sept. 25, 2015
El Chapo and del Castillo are texting for the first time to set up their first encounter. El Chapo says he wishes she could come and stay with him for three days, but there have been heavy rains and there’s no passage.
Chapo: “… we’ll drink tequila and champagne. I’m not a big drinker, but since your presence will be a beautiful thing, I’m very excited to meet you and become good friends. You’re the best in this world. … I’ll take care of everything so you’re comfortable. I will take care of you more than I do my own eyes."
Del Castillo: "I am so moved to hear that you will take care of me. No one has ever taken care of me."
Later that day, in messages between El Chapo and his lawyer:
Chapo: “What did she say?”
Lawyer: “Very excited. Surprised. She couldn’t believe it.”
Lawyer: “… she wants to bring along actor Sean Penn…. curious fact, he is the most renowned actor in Hollywood.”
An hour later…
Chapo: “What’s the name of that actor again?”
Lawyer: “Sean Penn.”
Lawyer: “The guy in that 21 Grams movie.”
Chapo: “21 Grams, what year was that?”
Sept. 26, 2015
The lawyer is telling El Chapo that del Castillo got home very late the night before because she was drinking and dancing with friends. El Chapo is having trouble pinning down Sean Penn.
Chapo: “Tell Kate that when she comes we will drink Tequila and dance, just tell her that.”
Chapo: “What’s the name of the director that will accompany the lady?”
Lawyer: “Sean Penn...”
Chapo: “I’m looking up Sean Penn online now…”
Lawyer: “Yeah, that guy used to be an actor I think, now he’s a writer and producer. The lady says he’s more badass than the guy who did The Godfather.”
Later that day:
Del Castillo: “… you have no idea how excited I am…. But independently of our project, I’m anxiously looking forward to looking at you in the eyes, in person, THANK YOU …”
Chapo: “… You are so beautiful, my friend, in every way.”
Del Castillo: “I’ll confess that for the first time I feel protected. You’ll know my story once we have time to chat, but for some reason I feel safe, and that you know who I am, not as an actress or public figure, but as a woman, as a person. I’ll bring my tequila to share it with you, because that was a dream of mine that was due to come true.”
On Sept. 27, del Castillo texts El Chapo on her whereabouts as she travels to Los Angeles. El Chapo calls del Castillo “beautiful,” thanks her for being such a good person, and wishes her safe travels.
After an initial meeting with El Chapo in Sinaloa, Mexico on Oct. 2, described in Penn’s Rolling Stone article, Del Castillo and Penn wait for about a week to have a second meeting, but it never happens because of security concerns.
Oct. 10, 2015
Del Castillo is traveling back home from Sinaloa after the aborted second meeting.
Chapo: “Good morning, my friend, I’m sorry, I was sleeping. I wish you safe travels, from the bottom of my heart. I’ll be on the lookout. I love you.” (There are two ways of saying “I love you” in Spanish: One is Te quiero, for friends, family, and the early stages of romantic relationships. The other is Te amo, as in, “I am in love with you,” reserved for serious romantic relationships. El Chapo used the former.)
Del Castillo: “…and I haven’t slept much since I saw you, I’m so excited about our story... It’s the truth. It’s the only thing I think about…”
Chapo: “I’m more excited about you than about the story, my friend.”
Del Castillo: “hahaha, I’m so happy to hear that.”
Del Castillo: “You made me blush ;)”
Oct. 23, 2015
It’s del Castillo’s birthday.
Chapo: “Good morning. Happy birthday from someone who feels affection for you and loves you: your friend...”
Del Castillo: “What a great birthday gift!!! Thank you! We will hug each other very soon.”
Oct. 24, 2015
Chapo: “Good afternoon, how’s the best woman in the world, the smartest one, whom I admire greatly? … [Chapo gives Del Castillo a phone number to call in order to get photos of El Chapo and Sean Penn together from him.]”
Del Castillo: “hahaha, thank you!!! Hi, my beautiful friend, I’ll call him … take care, thank you =-*
Chapo: Thank you, my friend, for your well wishes. Your friend loves you. Bye.”
Del Castillo: “I love my friend, bye.”
On Oct. 29, El Chapo texts del Castillo again to tell her he wants to see her again, and wants her to meet his mom.
On Oct. 31, and then again on Nov. 5, they exchange texts again about logistics for El Chapo’s biopic, which del Castillo was reportedly meant to produce. El Chapo asks her what her favorite food is in order to offer it to her when she returns. He tells her he “loves and admires” her and “has no way to repay” everything she’s done for him and his children.
On Nov. 9, del Castillo texts El Chapo letting him know the article is finished and just needs his approval. She tells him she has been told she is being surveilled, and that things are getting too dangerous, even though, she says, “both me and my friend (Penn) want to see you again and finish the mission you assigned to me.” The text exchanges end here.
Sergio Galaz contributed to this post.