Belfast Telegraph

I bet Sean wishes he had never penned drug baron's life story

By Lindy McDowell

You can see why actor Sean Penn might have thought there could be a movie in Joaquin Guzman. The life and crimes of the diminutive Mexican drugs cartel boss, better known as El Chapo (that translates as Shorty, although whether anyone actually calls him that to his face is another matter), is the stuff of hackneyed Hollywood script.

The notorious gangster who made his rumoured billion from illegal narcotics heads a crime syndicate which has been associated with hundreds of gruesome murders. He's twice been imprisoned in the past and has twice escaped. Once he got out via laundry trolley, once via a spectacular tunnel.

Even inside he'd used his wealth, clout and connections to live a life of luxury enjoying conjugal visits, parties and the best of gourmet grub.

His second escape from this gold-plated hellhole made global headlines.

A mile long tunnel had been built from an outside work site connecting all the way back in under his cell shower. Once El Chapo had exited the shower and descended into this tunnel he made good his escape on a motorbike along a lighted underground track. Estimates put the construction costs of the impressive getaway route at well over $1m. There's less spent on the Westlink.

Once out, the bandit boss was then scooped by private helicopter and spirited away into the safe keeping of his monstrous gang.

And there he might have stayed had he not decided he wanted to be immortalised in the movies.

El Chapo, like many another blood-soaked criminal/gangster/paramilitary goon, apparently sees himself as a bit of a Mexican Robin Hood. A very nice Chap all round. His line is that he isn't into violence per se. He's only ever resorted to it in self-defence.

El Chapo. His only crime was retaliatory action ...

Anyway around about this point, enter Sean Penn. El Chapo had been in contact with an actress who in turn, reportedly got in touch with the former Mr Madonna flagging up the film idea.

The movie never materialised. But Penn did get to meet the crime boss in his hideaway in order to pen an exclusive for the magazine Rolling Stone.

Shortly afterwards, rather unsettlingly one would assume for Mr Penn the writer, El Chapo was apprehended by Mexican marines.

Or, as we say here, lifted.

He'd been captured in a horrendously dirty vest after he'd tried to make a run for it down a sewer. Later, newly scrubbed up and dressed in polo shirt and Adidas trackie bottoms, the feared crime kingpin was paraded for the cameras. Rocking this season's athleisure look ...

Apart from official scrutiny - and God knows what questions being asked by Guzman associates - poor Penn, for his part, is now under attack from the media and the public querying his sense of judgement in all this.

The actor's Rolling Stone piece portrayed Mexico's Most Wanted in charming soft focus as "a simple man from a simple place". Which, of course, explains nothing, excuses nothing.

But then Sean Penn wouldn't be the first to view a brutal gangster through rose-coloured naivete.

From the Krays down the years to the UDA and all our other local murder gangs both loyalist and republican ... there have always been plenty of apologists eager to downplay and justify the crimes and the killings here, too.

Sure what choice had they but to do the things they did? Answer: actually plenty of choice.

Despite the luvvie cheerleaders, the vast majority of people see murderous thugs for what they truly are.

The same applies to the newly re-incarcerated El Chapo who now faces extradition to America where prison conditions may be a tad more restrictive than he's used to. He let his arrogance and his ego get the better of him. Sean Penn surely could have warned him.

In the movies the bad guy never wins.

Are taxi claims a bit Uber the top?

A headline informs us that taxi app Uber is claiming a 50% growth since its Belfast launch just before Christmas. Really?

They've now got two cars? I'm speaking from personal observation here.

Since Uber arrived with considerable fanfare and publicity I've only ever spotted one of their car top signs.

And I'm not even sure that was a taxi. It might just have been a promotional vehicle.

Will Uber really take off here? Time will tell.

So will the obvious signs in the street.

Angie knew to keep Starman identity

Having been informed of her ex-husband's death, Angie Bowie chose not to leave the Celebrity Big Brother House immediately. No surprises there.

In fairness having previously slagged him off it would have seemed a bit hypocritical. And yet ... she had a son by the man ... the news must have evinced some emotion. It would have been more respectful to have bowed out.

But Angie herself would probably argue the marriage was all a long, long time ago. A long time indeed. A long time to hang on to that lucrative Bowie name ...

Belfast Telegraph


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