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In a twist worthy of the silver screen, information from Hollywood producers may have helped lead to the recapture of the world’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, who escaped from a Mexican prison in July.
NBC News has learned from multiple U.S. sources that Hollywood producers seeking to turn the Sinaloa cartel chieftain’s life story into a movie notified U.S. officials that they were working on the biopic and were headed to Mexico for research.
According to multiple officials, several production companies contacted the Justice Department to express an interest in producing a film. At least one of those companies — and a well-known actor — were in contact with associates of El Chapo.
At least one source says the information gleaned through the Hollywood contacts may have helped lead to Guzman’s recapture.
Other sources say it is unclear just how much help, if any, the information may have been.
Guzman escaped from a Mexican prison in July through an elaborate tunnel but was recaptured Friday.
During a press conference after his capture, Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez said that an "important element in determining Chapo's whereabouts was finding out that he wanted to film an autobiographical film."
The attorney general said Guzman had "made contact with actresses and producers."
Mexican officials allegedly documented meetings between Guzman’s lawyers and the actors and producers.
One U.S. official said that information from Hollywood sources was only one part of a two-year hunt by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Operations Division and other federal law enforcement, assisting the Mexican government, that included informants, satellite imagery and intercepted cellphone communications.
Guzman escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 and was free until he was rearrested by Mexican authorities in February 2014, using intelligence from U.S. sources. He was imprisoned until he escaped once again in July 2015.