Companies owned by a drug gang, which the United States says rivals the Sinaloa Cartel, reportedly won several contracts from municipal and federal governments in Mexico.
On January 17, the US Treasury Department added the Meza Flores network to its Kingpin List, freezing its assets in US territory and banning US citizens from doing business with its members and businesses.
The Treasury named Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias "Chapito Isidro," as the head of the group, and listed three companies that it said were owned by the group and operating in its interests, all based in Guasave, Sinaloa state.
Following the designation, 24 Horas reported that one of these companies, the gas station Auto Servicios Jatziry, had been named an official federal government gasoline distributor under former President Felipe Calderon. It was also contracted by the municipal government of Guasave to refuel official vehicles, receiving over $1,500 in the month of August 2011, according to the report.
Another business owned by the Meza Flores organization, construction company Constructora Jatziry de Guasave, won five contracts worth nearly 750,000 pesos ($60,000) between March and April 2009, to build three medical clinics.
InSight Crime Analysis
Gasoline is an important business for both the Meza Flores organization and its allies, the Zetas. The Zetas steal government fuel and resell it in gasoline stations in places like Torreon, raising the question of whether the Meza Flores organization is reselling stolen gasoline to the government.
These organizations also use public works contracts to launder proceeds and fatten their pocketbooks with kickbacks.
The Meza Flores group seems well entrenched and connected. Officials said that there were no local or federal arrest warrants or investigations open against Chapito Isidrio in the state of Nuevo Leon, where he reportedly lives.
This is despite the fact that the organization’s “turf war” with the Sinaloa Cartel caused drug-related murders to quadruple in Sinaloa state in the last four years, according to US authorities.
In building links with local government, the Meza Flores network is following the lead of the longer-established Sinaloa Cartel, which is deeply embedded in the power structures of Sinaloa state.
The report also highlights the limitations on the US Treasury Department’s power to sanction drug cartels -- adding a group to the Kingpin List freezes their assets in the United States, but does not affect their operations in Mexico.