Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman fawned over the "beautiful" actress Kate del Castillo, while she confessed her "dream" of meeting him in leaked text messages filled with warm exchanges.
The chats, published by the newspaper Milenio on Wednesday, took place before and after Guzman, Del Castillo and US actor Sean Penn sat down for a now notorious meeting in the Mexican jungle in October.
The messages provide a new window into the mysterious relationship between the then-fugitive and Del Castillo, who brokered the get-together between Guzman and Penn — even though the fugitive appeared to know little about the actor.
In the messages intercepted by Mexican authorities, the pair discuss meeting over tequila and champagne, with Guzman promising to "take care of you more than my own eyes" while the Mexican-American actress expresses her "eagerness to see you eye-to-eye."
"I'll take care of you. You'll see when you come," Guzman, who went by the name "Papa" in the messages, wrote on September 26, just over two months after his escape from a maximum-security prison.
"You're so beautiful, my friend, in every aspect," the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel leader told Del Castillo, famous for her role as a drug boss in the TV show "The Queen of the South."
SMITTEN DRUG LORD
Del Castillo, whose chat name was "Beauty," answered: "I must confess that I feel protected for the first time. You'll know my story when we have time to speak, but for some reason I feel safe and I know you know who I am, not as an actress or public figure, but as a woman, as a person."
The actress, who has her own tequila brand, added: "I'll bring my tequila to share it with you, because it is a dream that I wanted to fulfill."
Guzman, who is married to a former beauty queen and has twin daughters with her and more children with other women, told Del Castillo his mother wanted to meet her.
Two government officials told AFP that the text messages leaked to Milenio were authentic.
Del Castillo took to Twitter late Wednesday to make her first public statement since the meeting with Guzman became public on Saturday.
"Not surprisingly, many have chosen to make up items they think will make good stories and that aren't truthful," she wrote. "I look forward to sharing my story with you."
Penn, who wrote about the October 2 meeting with Guzman in a Rolling Stone article published on Saturday, said the kingpin wanted Del Castillo to help him make a biopic about himself.
On October 10, after they met, the actress wrote: "I don't sleep much since I saw you. I'm very excited about our story. ... It's all I think about."
Guzman, 58, replied: "I'm more excited about you than the story."
He wrote her again on October 23 to wish her happy birthday when she turned 43.
"What a nice birthday gift! Thank you! We will hug very soon," she wrote.
Officials said Tuesday that Guzman's "almost obsessive" desire to see Del Castillo again contributed to his recapture last Friday in Los Mochis, a seaside city in his northwestern home state of Sinaloa.
Guzman left his mountain hideout because troops were circling him, but his hope of seeing her again also led him to the city, the officials said on condition of anonymity. DVDs of her TV show were found in his hideout.
After six months on the lam, Guzman is back in the same prison he escaped from on July 11.
The Mexican government said authorities were investigating the "actions" surrounding the October meeting, not the people directly.
But legal experts doubt that the actors could face charges, unless they accepted money from illegal proceeds from Guzman to make a film.
While Guzman agreed to meet with Penn, the world's most infamous criminal did not seem to know much about the Oscar-winning Hollywood actor.
In messages between Guzman and his attorney, who facilitated the phone exchanges with Del Castillo, the lawyer told the drug lord about the 2003 film "21 Grams."
The kingpin asked his attorney to repeat the actor's name twice and the title of Penn's most recent movie.
"I see Sean Penn on the internet here," wrote "Papa."