(CNN) — First came the arrest, then the publication of a bombshell interview in a mountainous Mexican jungle, and now the extradition process.
Mexican forces recaptured drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last week, six months after his prison escape. But despite the end of his freedom, a circus was just beginning.
In an article published Saturday, actor Sean Penn revealed that he interviewed then-fugitive Guzman in a Mexican jungle in October. Penn’s account, published in Rolling Stone, featured an unapologetic Guzman touting himself as the biggest drug supplier in the world.
Mexican officials have said that while he was on the run, he called movie producers about a planned biopic. Such Hollywood theatrics added another twist to the surreal life of the two-time prison escapee.
Here’s what we know:
Mexican forces recaptured Guzman in his native Sinaloa state after a shootout that killed six of his people.
Questions have swirled over what role, if any, Penn’s interview had in Guzman’s arrest early Friday.
Before the interview came to light, two U.S. law enforcement officials had said tracking of cell phones and electronic exchanges of people close to him led to his recapture. Mexican authorities said they captured Guzman partly because his representatives contacted filmmakers and actors about making his biopic.
It’s unclear whether authorities were referring to Penn and Kate del Castillo, a Mexican actress.
What happens next:
Guzman is back in the same maximum-security prison from which he escaped, but it might not be for long. The Sinaloa cartel leader could be extradited to the United States, where he faces seven drug-related indictments in various jurisdictions.
Interpol agents served extradition paperwork Sunday in the prison where Guzman is being held, the Mexican attorney general’s office said. The process could take months, and he would have the right to appeal. Guzman’s lawyers have filed documents to fight extradition.
Penn said del Castillo planned the interview. The drug lord wanted the actress’s help in spearheading a movie project about his life.
The article describes a man on the run who appeared to be anything but, as he sipped tequila in a “casual patterned silk shirt and pressed black jeans.”
His face beaming, and looking “remarkably well-groomed” for a prison escapee, Penn said, Guzman bragged about the intricate nature of his drug empire.
“I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” he told Penn.
While Penn does not give the specific location of the interview, he said it was conducted in a mountainous Mexican jungle.
What happens next:
There have been conflicting reports on whether Mexican officials knew about the meeting.
But the timing of the interview coincides with reported sightings and near-misses.
In October, the same month Penn interviewed him, authorities said they almost caught Guzman but he slipped away. At the time, they said, he suffered injuries to his leg and face as he evaded capture.
Penn and del Castillo have not said a word about the interview. But CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said at first glance, it does not appear they broke any laws.
“You can argue it’s morally reprehensible. But when you look at it from Sean Penn’s perspective, he simply had a talk with a fugitive,” Jackson said.
“You need some type of aiding or abetting or assisting or material support … of a fugitive,” he said. “Merely going and having an interview and having El Chapo expand upon his life, background, why he does what he does, that at this point seems insufficient for criminality.”
A senior Mexican law official said authorities want to question Penn and del Castillo, and especially want to learn more about where the interview took place.
HOW IT CAME TO BE
Much speculation has focused on Rolling Stone’s controversial story and how it came to be.
Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner told The New York Times that Penn approached him months earlier with the story idea.
Penn was unreachable for a few days, then later contacted him and said the interview had happened.
“It was just between me and Sean, for a couple of weeks as he wrote his draft,” he said.
What followed were months of top-secret editing and consultations with a lawyer.
Critics have slammed the magazine for giving the notorious drug lord a chance to read and approve the story before it was published. The story includes a disclosure about the unusual arrangement.
What happens next:
Wenner hopes nothing.
“They got their man, so what do they need us for?” he said. “There is nothing we can add anymore.”