Mexico's Del Castillo to be summoned to testify about "El Chapo" Guzman ties

Mexico City, Jan 18 (EFE).- Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who met with Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman late last year while he was a still a fugitive, will be summoned by Mexican authorities to testify about her links to the powerful drug lord, a federal government source told EFE Monday.

"Yes, they're going to call her to testify," the source said on condition of anonymity and without indicating where prosecutors would speak to her as part of their probe into her contacts with the Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin.

Sources with the federal Attorney General's Office consulted by Radio Formula said the decision to summon the actress as a witness was made after that institution opened a preliminary inquiry last weekend.

The 43-year-old actress' name surfaced in connection with Guzman on Jan. 9, when Rolling Stone magazine published American actor Sean Penn's article about his secret meeting with the fugitive in northwestern Mexico in October 2015.

Penn wrote that Del Castillo had arranged the meeting, while Mexican authorities say Guzman had enlisted her help in making a biopic of his life.

Since then, the Mexican press has published a series of text messages that were exchanged by Del Castillo, Guzman and one of the drug lord's attorneys, Andres Granados, and intercepted by Mexican intelligence officials.

In one message published Monday by leading Mexican daily El Universal, the actress expresses interest in El Chapo investing in her tequila brand, Honor del Castillo, saying it would be "incredible" if she and the drug lord were to become business partners.

That exchange with Granados occurred on April 15, around three months before Guzman escaped from a maximum-security prison outside Mexico City through a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) tunnel dug to his cell.

The AG's office's file on the actress' links to the drug lord "refers to a possible transfer of funds from Guzman Loera or one of his front men to Tequila de Honor, owner of the Honor del Castillo brand," El Universal reported.

In messages that preceded the Oct. 2 meeting in which Del Castillo and Penn traveled to Guzman's mountain hide-out, the actress tells Guzman that she will bring her tequila to share with him.

"It's a dream that I'm now getting to fulfill. And thanks to you. We'll see you soon, my friend," Del Castillo, who portrayed a powerful, tequila-drinking drug trafficker in the 2011 Spanish-language telenovela "La Reina del Sur" (Queen of the South), writes.

The actress, for her part, said last week that a lot of stories had been invented to distract the public from the "real issues," but that she would tell her version of events shortly.

Guzman first established contact with Del Castillo after she posted a letter on Twitter in 2012 calling on the drug lord to become a "hero" and use his wealth for good.

The Mexican government says those contacts helped them locate the whereabouts of the world's most-wanted drug trafficker, who was captured on Jan. 8 in his home state of Sinaloa and placed back in the same prison from which he had escaped six months earlier.

He had earlier busted out of a Mexican prison in 2001 and evaded authorities for more than 13 years before being recaptured on Feb. 22, 2014, in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan.