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Kate Del Castillo Wanted to Make Tequila With El Chapo

The Mexican Attorney General's Office has subpoenaed Kate del Castillo as a witness in its investigations in the wake of El Chapo's recapture.

by Gabriela Gorbea and Nathaniel Janowitz
Jan 18 2016, 9:50pm

Photo Via Instagram

"It would be divine," Mexican actress Kate del Castillo typed when she learned that Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán might consider joining her tequila business. "Incredible!!!" she finished off the text communication, complete with three exclamation marks.

Del Castillo was conversing with one of the drug lord's lawyers, Andrés Granados Flores, who she also sent promotional material to pass on to his boss. 

"I hope you can show it to him," she wrote. "That would make me very happy."

The conversation — published in El Universal on Monday — is the latest indication of closeness between the kingpin and the actress.

Del Castillo is already in the eye of the storm for helping to set up Chapo's now infamous meeting with Sean Penn in October, in the middle of the period between the fugitive capo's spectacular escape from jail last July and his dramatic recapture 11 days ago.

Related: How Kate Del Castillo Became the Rebel Celebrity Who Took Sean Penn to Chapo

Now evidence is piling up that Del Castillo may soon be investigated for possible commercial ties with the capo.

A source in the Mexican attorney general's office told VICE News on Monday that Del Castillo has been subpoenaed as a "witness." He would not give any information about possible dates or clarify exactly what she is being called in to answer questions about.

With the release of the business correspondence between Del Castillo and Granados, Mexico's prosecutor's office could place charges against the actress if investigations show she had a business relationship with the drug lord.

"If she wants to have a tequila business and wants him as a partner, it can't logically be argued that she did not know that El Chapo has illegally obtained his resources," lawyer Juan Miguel Alcántara Soria, told VICE News. "It would be [proof of] the intention and the attempt to want to launder money for El Chapo."

Alcántara, who served as a state-level attorney general and is currently a public security consultant for the federal level government added that if found guilty of the intention of laundering money, Del Castillo could face five-15 years in prison.

Del Castillo's conversation about tequila with Chapo's lawyer reportedly took place on April 15, last year, while Chapo was still in jail.

A report by the Mexican intelligence agency also claims that Del Castillo allegedly met with Andrés Granados in person in the touristic hotspot of Xochimilco, Mexico City, to talk about their plans.

The actress' brand, called Tequila Honor del Castillo, also featured in the now infamous meeting with Penn. The actor mentions the tequila she brought to share with the capo.

Del Castillo posted a photo days later of her and Penn together on Instagram after returning from meeting El Chapo at an event in Guadalajara, capital of the state of Jalisco famous for tequila production. In her hashtags she referenced the tequila company now under scrutiny.

The actresses tequila brand was originally founded with businessmen in Jalisco and according to El Universal, in 2014 the company was registered in Delaware, United States. The paper said that Del Castillo has also requested its registration in the Mexican Institute of Intellectual Property around the same time.

Surveillance of the actress because of her communications with the drug lord reportedly began in August 2014. So far, however, most of the leaked conversations between her, him, and his lawyers, have focused on the logistics of their encounter in October, and flirtation.

Related: The Actress Who Linked Up Sean Penn with El Chapo Was Under Surveillance Since 2014

Mexico's attorney general Arely Gómez said that, so far, they know Del Castillo and Sean Penn met with El Chapo to exchange information.

Both of them are being investigated to know whether or not they reached an agreement with the drug kingpin, and if any of them took part in "criminal activities in Mexico," Gómez said in a radio interview with Joaquín Lopez Doriga last week.

"What we are investigating now are possible criminal activities that could have taken place in Mexico," the attorney general said. When asked about the legal future for Del Castillo, Gómez said that "it depends. We would have to look into what they talked about and the agreements they made in that meeting."

The tequila industry has already been tied to allegations of drug money laundering.

The US Treasury department has blacklisted several tequila companies for being fronts for organized crime, specifically the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG in Spanish), one of the fastest growing and most dangerous cartels in Mexico.

There is believed to be a close working relationship between CJNG and El Chapo's Sinaloa cartel. Investigations have shown that CJNG operatives contributed funds to defend people facing charges related to the July 2015 escape of El Chapo Guzman from Altiplano prison — the same prison where the once again arrested drug lord is currently detained.

Related: Tequila Is Being Distilled in the Shadows of Organized Crime

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz

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