Top White House official calls drug boss′ boasts ′maddening′ | News | DW | 10.01.2016
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Top White House official calls drug boss' boasts 'maddening'

President Obama's chief of staff has decried 'braggadocios' remarks made by Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' about his heroin empire in an interview with Sean Penn. Mexican officials reportedly want to question the US actor.

Helloween Masken des Chefs des Sinaloa-Kartells Joaquin Guzman

Halloween masks of the drug lord's face are a testament to his notoriety

Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman said he supplied "more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world" in an interview published by "Rolling Stone" magazine after his arrest earlier this week.

"I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats," Guzman told Hollywood star Sean Penn, who met the drug boss while he was still in hiding.

On Sunday, Barack Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough described Guzman's boasts as "maddening."

"One thing I will tell you is that this braggadocios action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the United States, is maddening," McDonough said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"We see a heroin epidemic, an opioid addiction epidemic, in this country," McDonough added. "We're going to stay on top of this with our Mexican counterparts until we get that back in the box. But El Chapo's behind bars - that's where he should stay."

The US president Obama plans to address the heroin epidemic in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

Yearning for Hollywood

The Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn met Guzman in October, months after the drug lord's famous escape from a maxim security prison. The drug trafficker also reached out to other actors and produces in hope of making a movie about himself.

Mexiko Hochsicherheitsgefängnis El Altiplano Zelle von El Chapo Guzman

"El Chapo" escaped his maximum security cell through a tunnel in July

The secretive meeting was arranged through Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, known for her television portrayal of a female drug lord.

Penn described the trip in the Saturday edition of the "Rolling Stone" magazine, saying that the journey included a seven-hour truck ride through the jungle.

The interview and Guzman's desire to make a biopic helped Mexican authorities to track the fugitive down, despite Penn's effort to keep the meeting secret.

'Interesting questions' for Sean Penn

Prosecutors in Mexico now want to talk to Penn and Del Castillo, a Mexican federal official told the AFP news agency on Sunday.

"That is correct, of course - it's to determine responsibilities," the official said, without providing more details.

Mexiko Festnahme Drogenboss Joaquin Guzman Loera Screenshot Rolling Stone

"Rolling Stone" published Guzman's interview with Sean Penn

A second official said it was unclear whether Penn and del Castillo committed a crime.

A reporter could interview a drug cartel suspect, the official argued, but noted, "They're not journalists."

White House official McDonough avoided answering whether the US would hand Penn over for questioning.

"Well, it poses a lot of very interesting questions both for him and for others involved in this so-called interview, so we'll see what happens on that - I'm not going to get ahead of it," he said in his television appearance.

dj/gsw (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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