Mexican prosecutors have officially ordered that actress Kate del Castillo be located and brought in for questioning about her relationship and encounters with drug cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Authorities said Thursday they have been seeking to interview del Castillo for an investigation of possible money laundering involving Guzman and the actress' tequila business, after last month's revelation that she helped broker a meeting between the drug lord and actor Sean Penn. She has not been accused of any crime.
Two security officials confirmed that federal prosecutors issued the order because the movie and telenovela star did not voluntarily appear before authorities to give a statement as requested. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The officials said the order applies only to Mexican territory and added that if del Castillo were found to be in the country, she would be detained to make a statement as a witness and then released after doing so.
Del Castillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived for years in Los Angeles, recently asked a court for an injunction barring Mexican authorities from detaining her, although the judge asked her lawyers for more specifics before proceeding with the case.
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While the actress' publicist did not immediately reply to messages seeking comment Thursday, her attorney Harland Braun said his client is ready to answer any questions from Mexican federal authorities.
"In the course of the investigation, they will talk to her, right? If we receive information and appropriate credentials, she will speak to them. She's not hiding anything,” he told the Associated Press.
He added that there is “no problem to locate her. Everyone knows that she has lawyers, publicists, agents.”
Del Castillo has not responded to multiple media requests for comment in recent weeks, but she posted that many people were making up "items they think will make good stories and that aren't truthful."
Mexican authorities say the October meeting between Guzman, del Castillo and Penn in the mountains of northwestern Mexico helped them locate the cartel leader, though he escaped arrest on that occasion.
The encounter was described by the actor in a Rolling Stone article published on Jan. 9, a day after Guzman was captured in a raid in the city of Los Mochis. Mexican officials have not sought to question Penn.
The Mexican newspaper Milenio later published a series of text messages between del Castillo and "El Chapo" in which the drug lord showed more interest in the actress than in Penn. The two had planned to meet again.
A federal official confirmed the messages were authentic.
Del Castillo has appeared in movies and TV shows produced in the United States, Mexico and elsewhere including "Weeds" and "La Reina del Sur," in which she portrayed a powerful cartel boss. Last year she had a part in the feature film "The 33," a fictional account of the 2010 Chilean mine collapse that trapped 33 miners underground for months.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.