Experts believe the lives of Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and her family could be in danger even more that actor Sean Penn after she arranged the introduction between drug baron Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman that may have helped lead to last week’s capture.
DEA veteran Michael Levine, who authored the book of “Deep Cover: Mexican Government Drug Corruption from the Inside,” and has worked undercover on some organized crime-related cases, told Fox News, Castillo and Penn were foolish to get involved in the world of El Chapo.
“The problem with dealing with someone like Guzman on this personal basis, where one is perceived as a ‘friend, aid, or a business partner to Guzman, is that you have to be prepared to inherit all his enemies, and there are many,” Levine said. “These are some very kill-crazy people.”
Del Castillo is considered the biggest actress in Mexico. Her family includes her father Eric del Castillo, a well-known actor/director, and her sister, Veronica, is a famous TV personality and close friend to Eva Longoria.
“I have dealt with these people face-to-face with them believing I was one of them. The fame and notoriety they could gain by killing someone famous such as Penn or del Castillo will turn these bastards on,” Levine said.
“It’s a step into the dark world of the kill-crazies. Trust me, it is there, and unwittingly these two may have stepped into the world where there is an actual competition to kill them. I sincerely hope I am proven wrong, but after 25 years of deep cover work in that world, pessimism is a divine virtue.”
According to Mike Baker, who is a former covert operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency and president of Diligence, private intelligence, and security firm, Del Castillo has more on the line than Penn but is doubtful she is in danger.
“While I don’t think it likely if the cartel were to target those involved in setting up and conducting the interview somehow, but del Castillo would certainly be more at risk than Penn, given that she spends more time in Mexico than Penn, has family there, business associates there,” Baker said.
“But, as with Penn, I doubt the cartel would blame Castillo given that it was reportedly Guzman who reached out to her to start the ball rolling on looking to produce his life story,” he added.
The sexy starlet’s bad news doesn’t end there. Authorities in Mexico confirmed there is now an investigation into whether Penn and Del Castillo committed any crimes when they met with Guzman.
The Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez didn’t mention the actors by name but confirmed that a new line of inquiry was opened to determine whether Penn and Del Castillo broke the law when they met Guzmán for an interview at his secret hideout back on Oct 7th.
Investigators are looking into whether evidence exists of a crime such as a possible cover-up, bribes or more serious violations could have been committed.
“If there were criminal behavior stemming from their meeting in Mexico, it would then lead us into a more extensive and profound investigation, which we will have to analyze what was spoken about during the meetings, and what agreements were made,” said Gomez.
“Any charges they could face range from something subtle, such as the crime of concealment, to something severe. At the moment, I cannot elaborate further because the inquiry is ongoing. However, progress has been made,” Gomez added.
Penn maintained to the Associated Press in an email exchange that he had “nothing’ to hide’ after surveillance photos taken by Mexican intelligence surfaced on Monday showing him and Del Castillo allegedly departing for the secret meeting with Guzman in the mountainous region of Durango.
Law enforcement officials admitted that the actors’ correspondence with the lawyers of El Chapo helped lead authorities to the location of his hideout.
Also, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has opened an investigation into Penn and Del Castillo’ meeting with the drug lord.
However, it is unclear whether either actor will face charges in a U.S. court. Gomez did say that the investigation in Mexico is not connected to the probe under way in the U.S.
According to former prosecutor and New York defense attorney Lance Fletcher, investigators could be looking into whether the actress violated the State Department’s Travel Act, prohibiting the use of foreign travel for the purpose of promoting an unlawful activity.”
“I don’t know if a U.S. prosecutor could argue that Penn or Del Castillo, who became a U.S. citizen in Sept. 2015, purposefully traveled to Mexico to promote El Chapo’s drug smuggling operations, but maybe the man and his criminal enterprise are one and the same,” Fletcher told Fox News.
Ther could also be a possibility that Del Castillo’s production company face sanctions for violating the restrictions by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The State Department under OFAC or “KIngpin’s Act” prohibits all U.S.-based companies from conducting business with people or entities included those designated on the “Significant Narcotics Traffickers” list, which Guzman has been on the list since 2001.
Del Castillo has declined to give comment on either investigation.