"There is this myth about the visit that we made, my colleagues and I with El Chapo, that it was -- as the Attorney General of Mexico is quoted -- 'essential' to his capture," Penn told CBS This Morning's Charlie Rose. "We had met with him many weeks earlier on October 2, in a place nowhere near where he was captured."
El Chapo was found on Friday, Jan. 8, about 400 miles to the northeast in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The next day, Rolling Stone magazine published an interview that Penn had conducted with the kingpin, who was in hiding at the time.
Penn says the claim that he had something to do with El Chapo's arrest is just a ploy to put him in the crosshairs of the cartel. "Here's the things that we know: We know that the Mexican government, they were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did," he explained. "Well, nobody found him before they did. We didn't -- we're not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican intelligence. We had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation."
"Are you fearful for your life?" Rose asked. "No," Penn responded simply.
The 55-year-old actor goes on to explain why he wanted to interview El Chapo in the first place. "This is somebody who -- upon whose interview could I begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs. That was my simple idea," he said.
The Oscar winner does admit to Rose that he has one "terrible regret" about the interview. "I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose," he said, "Which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the war on drugs."
Penn adds that his "article failed" because it did not convey what he wanted. "Let's go to the big picture of what we all want. We all want this drug problem to stop. We all want them -- the killings in Chicago to stop," he continued. "We are the consumer. Whether you agree with Sean Penn or not, there is a complicity there. And if you are in the moral right, or on the far left, just as many of your children are doing these drugs. And how much time have they spent in the last week since this article come [sic] out, talking about that? One percent? I think that'd be generous."
"Do you make a moral equivalency between El Chapo and people who either buy or sell drugs in America?" Rose asked.
"I can't make him worse than me if I'm not out there doing everything that I can to get a conversation going on the way in which we prosecute that war," Penn explained.