ALMOLOYA DE JUAREZ, Mexico — Mexican authorities want to speak with U.S. actor Sean Penn and Latin television star Kate del Castillo, a Mexican law enforcement official told NBC News Sunday.
The revelation came a day after Rolling Stone published a secret interview that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman apparently gave to Penn while on the run.
The official also said that investigators were able to learn details about Guzman's whereabouts by intercepting phone conversations between Penn, Del Castillo and the drug lord.
The apparent interview between the actors and Guzman took place in October, and Guzman was recaptured Friday during an operation in the northwestern Mexican town of Los Mochis.
Ironically, he was transported to Altiplano — the same maximum-security prison where he escaped from on July 11.
Measures to increase security at the prison have been put into place, and prison staff were reviewed to make sure they are following proper "behavior protocols," national security and prison authorities said Sunday.
Guzman faces charges — including conspiracy to import and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, homicide and possession of firearms — in six U.S. jurisdictions, and Mexico's attorney general's office said Saturday that the government plans to begin the process of extraditing Guzman.
But one of the lawyers representing Guzman said Sunday that he does not think his client should be extradited to the United States, and his legal team "will present as many appeals as are needed" to prevent the transfer.
Defense attorney Juan Pablo Badillo Soto wouldn't say that Guzman's escape from prison in July was legal, but "he was seeking freedom and "my obligation as professional is to demonstrate his innocence."
"We would have to interpret Mexican laws which are just and wise," Soto said, adding that Guzman was "not afraid of justice."
"He is afraid of injustice," Soto said.
When Soto was asked Sunday whether Guzman should be handed over to the United States, he answered: "Of course not."
"And if it were necessary, we will present as many appeals as are needed," Soto said.
The Mexican attorney general's office said in a statement Saturday that any injunctions presented by Guzman's lawyers won't prevent his extradition.
Soto said that his first priority was to gain access to meet with Guzman, who he said he has not been permitted to see or speak with.
"It is strictly prohibited for any of his lawyers or any members of his family to speak with him," Soto said. "And that has been appealed."
Soto said Guzman has about six or seven lawyers representing him, and he has personally been his lawyer in four trials, in which the kingpin was acquitted.
A U.S. law enforcement official told NBC News that the main focus is bringing Guzman to the U.S. to face charges, and the U.S. Justice Department is typically reluctant to challenge First Amendment protections. The Department of Justice considers Penn's interview to be a "sideshow," the official said.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said Sunday that he is also less concerned with Penn interviewing the drug lord but he was "appalled" that Guzman bragged to the actor that he moves more heroin than anyone in the world.
"We are seeing an epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse in this country," McDonough said on ABC's "This Week."
"El Chapo's where he should be," McDonough said. "He should stay there."
Elisha Fieldstadt reported from New York