El Chapo | Planet Ryan - Republic-Times | News

El Chapo | Planet Ryan

By on January 20, 2016 at 8:05 am

Remember last year when news broke of the notorious leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Juan “El Chapo” Guzman, masterminding a sophisticated escape from a maximum security Mexican prison?

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the drug kingpin has been recaptured, thanks in part to the Mexican military, members of U.S. Delta Force and oh, yeah, Hollywood legend Sean Penn.

Guzman has been convicted of murder and his most obvious crime, drug trafficking. News outlets report that he’s managed to ship more than 500 tons of cocaine over the southern U.S. border since he started his drug empire. And that’s just one of the drugs he specializes in.

The secondary effects of his line of business probably include countless incidents of torture, kidnapping and everything else one assumes happens within the ranks of a large and powerful drug cartel. He even operates a fleet of drug-smuggling submarines.

So, the question on the minds of most clear-thinking folks is: How in the world did Sean Penn wind up shaking hands and having a laugh with one of the most dangerous men in the world?

With the current drug problem plaguing the U.S., thanks in some part to the Guzman’s cartel, one has to wonder why Penn would think it’s “cool” to make friends with such a figure? I assume Penn decided that making millions in the film industry wasn’t enough of a thrill, as he published his account with Guzman in Rolling Stone, acting as a so-called “journalist.” Apparently, it’s completely legal to talk with a fugitive from justice. But it’s certainly not OK – as in, it’s highly illegal –  to help them in any way, shape or form.

Many wonder if that may have happened, based on Penn’s account of his run-ins with the kingpin.

The mainstream media reported that Penn described instances of using disposable cell phones and other methods of evasion to stay off the radar of authorities in his Rolling Stone piece. That’s a bit alarming.

Ironically, it has also been reported that Penn’s interaction with “El Chapo” played a part in helping authorities track him down, though I’m quite certain that wasn’t his intention. If that’s true and his new friend finds out about it, well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be a great day to be Sean Penn. Or his family. Or his friends.

Numerous reports indicated Penn was under the eye of Mexican police the moment he stepped off the plane and met with the Mexican superstar actress who put him in touch with Guzman’s inner circle.

Penn has a long history of meeting and befriending nasty world dictators and their right-hand men, such as a top advisor to Saddam Hussein, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Raul Castro. The ultra-liberal actor also broke one of the most important rules of journalism by admitting Guzman had the right to first edit on his article. In other words, Guzman was allowed to control everything said in the article.

In my opinion, it sounds like Rolling Stone was searching for a way to rebound after the devastating credibility blow they took when they were forced to retract a massive story last year about an alleged “gang rape” that took place at the University of Virginia. They’re getting their pants sued off as a result of that screw-up.

Whatever their intentions were, sending Sean Penn to interview the most dangerous drug lord ever while providing said drug lord the ability to craft his own story and downplay his murderous past probably wasn’t the most savvy move by the top brass at Rolling Stone.

Money wise, yes. Credibility wise, not so much.

Ryan Ledendecker

Ryan is a biweekly columnist for the Republic-Times newspaper. When he's not working, he enjoys a good movie, bass fishing, and CrossFit.