El Chapito and El Chapo

The US Treasury has formally recognized as a Drug Trafficking Organization a group based in Sinaloa, Mexico, claiming that the rivalry between this organization and the mighty Sinaloa Cartel has caused violence to intensify in the state.

The Meza Flores network was designated a Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) (download a pdf of the Meza Flores structure below).

Operating out of Guasave in the state of Sinaloa, the organization has been trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and cocaine to the United States since 2000, according to the Treasury.

The Treasury’s statement claimed the cartel is one of the "primary rivals" of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel within the state, and blamed the rivalry between the two groups for the escalating violence in the region.

The Treasury identified Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias "Chapito Isidro," as the leader of the organization, and his wife, parents, sister and uncles as key figures in the operation. It also identified a grain transportation company, a gas and service station and a construction company as belonging to the group.

The ruling bans US citizens from doing business with the individuals and businesses listed by the Treasury, and freezes any assests the group has under US jurisdiction.

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the Treasury’s designation of the Meza Flores operation as a DTO in its own right, Chapito Isidro has previously been identified as the head of a faction of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), and a loyal lieutenant to BLO head Hector Beltran Leyva.

Since 2008, the BLO has been embroiled in a bloody conflict with its former allies in the Sinaloa Cartel, a battle which has left the organization a shadow of its former self. In recent years, Sinaloa state has become a major battleground in the conflict, as the remnants of the BLO allied themselves with the Zetas in a bid to mount a counterattack against the Sinaloa Cartel.

Reports suggest that Chapito Isidro has played a pivotal role in this conflict. However, to place the blame for escalating violence in Sinaloa on a Chapo vs Chapito war is to ignore the wider context of the conflict. It is possible that Chapito Isidro is operating as part of the BLO/Zetas coalition, rather than the the head of an independent Meza Flores cartel.

However, with the BLO fragmented and weakened and any alliance with the Zetas always precarious, it is possible the Treasury’s decision to declare the Meza Flores operation a DTO is a sign of Chapito Isidros' growing influence and independence in Sinaloa.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power. In rural sectors, uniformed BACRIM armed with assault rifles still patrol in...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy. Unlike their paramilitary and drug cartel predecessors, the BACRIM maintain a diversified...