Mexican prosecutors ask actress to testify on El Chapo links

Mexican prosecutors formally ask actress to testify on her links with drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Actress Kate del Castillo arriving for the Centerpiece Gala Premiere of Alcon Entertainment's 'The 33' during AFI FEST 2015 presented by Audi at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on November 9, 2015

Mexican prosecutors have formally asked actress Kate del Castillo to testify on her links with drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, authorities said on Monday.

The US-Mexican star has come under scrutiny since it was revealed last week that she exchanged affectionate text messages with Guzman and brokered a meeting between the Sinaloa drug cartel honcho and US actor Sean Penn.

An official at the attorney general's office told AFP that the request for Del Castillo to testify as a witness was sent over the weekend.

Since Del Castillo lives in Los Angeles, Attorney General Arely Gomez told El Universal newspaper the actress could give her testimony to investigators at the Mexican consulate in the California city.

Officials told AFP last week that investigators wanted to speak to Penn and Del Castillo about their meeting with Guzman, but only the actress has been formally approached.

El Universal published on Monday alleged text messages between Del Castillo and Guzman's attorney, Andres Granados, in which they appeared to discuss the possibility of the drug lord investing in her tequila company, Honor Del Castillo.

A federal government official confirmed to AFP the authenticity of the text messages written in April and July, before Guzman escaped from prison on July 11.

Mexican law considers financial transactions with illegally-acquired funds as constituting money laundering.

The US Treasury Department forbids American citizens and companies from conducting financial transactions with designated drug suspects.

Last week, another set of texts leaked to the media showed that Guzman and Del Castillo exchanged warm messages between September and November.

Del Castillo, 43, who is famous for her role as a drug lord in the TV show "Queen of the South," wrote on Twitter last week that the reports about her "aren't truthful."

Guzman, 58, was recaptured in a military raid on January 8 in Guzman's northwestern home state of Sinaloa.

Authorities say the discovery of Guzman's meeting with the actors in October, subsequent military operations in his mountain stronghold and the drug lord's desire to see Del Castillo again contributed to his arrest.

New text messages

In the text messages published by El Universal on Monday, the lawyer allegedly tells the actress he wants to talk to Guzman about her tequila company.

"Who knows (maybe) he's interested and you become partners," the lawyer writes. The actress answers: "Incredible!!!"

Officials said last week that authorities were investigating the "actions" that took place during the meeting with Guzman, not people directly.

Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former Mexican intelligence agency official, said prosecutors have to find evidence of a monetary transaction in order to charge someone of a financial crime.

Otherwise, Hope told AFP, "there is nothing, there is no crime."

An individual also has "no obligation" to tell the authorities the whereabouts of a fugitive, he said.

In Del Castillo's case, she apparently did not know the exact location of the meeting with Guzman, which Penn described in a Rolling Stone article as a "jungle" clearing.