The US government has offered a $5 million reward for the capture of a Mexican drug trafficker who has kept a low profile while allegedly playing a major role in Sinaloa's fragmented criminal landscape.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US State Department announced on September 27 that a $5 million reward would be offered in exchange for information directly leading to the arrest or conviction of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, alias "Chapo Isidro" or "Chapito Isidro."
Chapo Isidro is recognized by the US government as the alleged leader of the Meza Flores drug trafficking organization based in Sinaloa state, Mexico. The Meza Flores network was formally classified as a Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) by the US Treasury Department in 2013.
SEE ALSO: Chapo Isidro Profile
US officials also believe that Chapo Isidro was previously a high-ranking leader of the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) and was considered the "right hand man" of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, who was arrested in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison in the United States earlier this year.
Chapo Isidro was indicted by a US federal court in 2012 for conspiracy to import large-scale drug shipments from Mexico to the United States.
InSight Crime Analysis
While Chapo Isidro does not have the same name recognition as many of his rivals and allies in Sinaloa's splintered criminal scene, his low profile seems to belie the extent of his influence, which has remained a concern for the US government.
Although the early roots of Chapo Isidro's involvement in drug trafficking activities remain unclear, he is best known for his alleged high-level role within the BLO and his subsequent leadership of several other criminal organizations in northern Sinaloa state, a heartland of Mexico's drug production.
While Chapo Isidro has rarely been in the spotlight, he became most notorious following the 2008 arrest of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, when a bitter divide formed between the BLO and their former allies, the Sinaloa Cartel.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Beltrán Leva Organization
In the bloody war that followed, Chapo Isidro is considered the driving force that maintained the BLO's foothold in the region. In fact, the rivalry between Chapo Isidro and the now captured Sinaloa Cartel head Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is considered to have been a major driver of violence in Sinaloa at the peak of Mexico's drug war in the early 2010s.
These battles decimated the BLO, leaving all of its leaders either captured or killed. Chapo Isidro, on the other hand, has proved elusive to security forces and rivals, allegedly maintaining power as the head of various offshoot criminal groups. It is unknown what role he may be playing in the renewed fight for control between the BLO and the weakened Sinaloa Cartel following the arrest and extradition of El Chapo in January.
The US government's new offer of a reward for Chapo Isidro's capture suggest that law enforcement still considers him a key player. This thrust back into the public eye could make it more difficult for Chapo Isidro to continue operating freely in Sinaloa's explosive criminal landscape.