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OTR Interviews

Interrogating 'El Chapo'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 17, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, 'ON THE RECORD' GUEST HOST: A federal agent who met with El Chapo in a Mexican prison back in 1998 now speaking for the first time about his encounter with the drug lord. Former DEA chief intelligence officer from El Paso, Larry Villalobos, joins us. All right. Good evening, Larry.

LARRY VILLALOBOS, FORMER DEA CHIEF INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Good evening, Judge.

PIRRO: How did you get to interview this guy? You are a DEA agent.

VILLALOBOS: Well, as DEA Intelligence specialist and I was with them -- with DEA, yes.

PIRRO: Right. How did you get to talk to him?

VILLALOBOS: Well, Chapo sent a messenger to the U.S. Embassy in 1998, and he wanted to speak to DEA. I was supposed to be there at the time. I have been part of a Hybrid Unit in the past that studied Mexican traffickers, so I knew quite a bit about Chapo Guzman that we.

(CROSSTALK)

PIRRO: OK. So, let -- let me just interrupt you because there's so much to this. So, DEA gives you permission to talk to this guy. When you go in, what -- what do you think you're going to gain from this and what do you think he wants from this?

VILLALOBOS: Well, it was permission actually from not only DEA, from the U.S. government, Department of Justice and from the Mexican government. Chapo wanted to cut a deal with the U.S. government, and in return, gives us the members of the Tijuana Cartel.

PIRRO: OK. So, so you go in. You -- you -- the first time you're with him and you've studied him. You're with Intelligence. Do you get the sense that you're in a room with a guy who can take a chainsaw and cut your arm off or is he like a regular guy?

VILLALOBOS: No. He's like a regular guy. At that point, he'd been in prison for about five years. He was trim, he was slim, he was clean cut. He was actually very surprised to see us.

PIRRO: So, OK. So, he is surprised to see you, he didn't think anyone would respond to his request. But, by asking to see someone from the United States DEA, he is apparently cognizant of the fact that we have some input into what Mexico is going to do.

VILLALOBOS: Well, he did. He -- he -- he knew that -- that we would be accompanied by Mexican authorities, which we were, there was three of us. A DEA agent and the Mexican prosecutor, and we introduced ourselves as who we were. And we spoke to him and then she began to talk to us about what deal he wanted to cut with the U.S. government.

PIRRO: Do you think he was telling you the truth?

VILLALOBOS: No. Having -- he was -- he was talking as best as he possibly could. He was completely excited to be able to face us and to talk to us. He -- he was actually wanting to be transferred to another prison in Mexico -- in Mexico City, actually, a notorious prison where a lot of escapes, coincidentally occur.

PIRRO: All right. So then -- is a deal made?

VILLALOBOS: No, the deal wasn't made. We -- but at that time, Chapo was under indictment in various jurisdictions in the United States. And there was no deal to be made. We went to listen to what his offer was and he we continued to talk to him. There was never a second meeting. We never went back.

PIRRO: All right. I've got to wrap up quickly. Were you surprised that he - - he escaped?

VILLALOBOS: No, I wasn't. He always said that he would not be in prison. He would either be dead or out of prison.

PIRRO: All right. Well, I guess it was the second of the two anyway. Larry Villalobos, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

VILLALOBOS: Thank you.