The U.S. government has tripled its reward for information leading to the capture of Sinaloa cartel boss Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a longtime business partner of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

The Department of State announced Wednesday it was increasing its offer from $5 million to $15 million for information that will result in the arrest and/or conviction of El Mayo, Daily Mail reported.

The department said the increase in the reward money commensurates with his "leadership status in the Sinaloa cartel."

The 73-year-old Sinaloa cartel boss is accused of conspiracy to possess and import five kilos of cocaine and more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana. His other charges include conspiracy to possess firearms in drug trafficking crimes and aiding and abetting. 

In a statement, Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said El Mayo is a longtime business partner of convicted Sinaloa cartel co-founder El Chapo and "is charged in several U.S. indictments along with El Chapo and his sons."

The department added that the reward offer adheres to the derivative designations by the Treasury Department being made according to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

The department said these actions are part of a whole-of-government effort to fight drug trafficking and transnational organized crime around the world and in Mexico.

According to the 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Sinaloa cartel and its rival Jalisco New Generation Cartel were the top two providers of illegal drugs to the U.S.

Sinaloa Cartel Boss Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada Still on The Loose 

The reward for Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada's capture is now the second-highest offer for a Mexican drug trafficker, Mexico News Daily reported. El Mayo has never been imprisoned despite being involved in the illegal drug trade for many years.

The highest reward of $20 million was for the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero. The former leader of the defunct Guadalajara Cartel was at the top of the DEA's Most Wanted list.

Aside from being a drug cartel leader, Caro Quintero was also wanted for his involvement in the kidnapping and killing of DEA special agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in 1985. 

He was sentenced to 40 years in prison after he was convicted by a court in Mexico in 1989. But in 2013, he was released on a technicality and remained at large. Caro Quintero is reportedly a Sinaloa member now.

READ NEXT: Sinaloa Cartel Ally Sentenced to More Than 20 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

Ismael 'El Mayo' Zambada and Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman

Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada had been a huge topic during Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's trial, with his defense attorneys claiming that the true leader of the Sinaloa cartel was El Mayo, Insider reported.

El Mayo was the longtime partner of El Chapo. The Sinaloa cartel's boss' lawyers said that El Mayo has been working with both the Mexican and American governments. They noted that El Mayo was the one bribing officials to steer clear of the legal chaos.

Jeffrey Lichtman, Guzmán's lead lawyer, earlier said that the world is focusing on El Chapo when it should be on El Mayo.

Both El Chapo and El Mayo were among the people who established the Sinaloa cartel from the remnants of the Guadalajara Cartel after its leader Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was arrested in 1989.

The U.S. State Department said that El Mayo also has wide real estate holdings and has invested in multiple businesses in Mexico.

El Mayo's son, Vicente Zambada Niebla, has testified against El Chapo and revealed the Sinaloa cartel's drug smuggling operations. 

El Mayo's son has told jurors about how El Chapo and even his father used submarines, airplanes, trains, and other vehicles to traffic drugs. 

A federal court found El Chapo guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering, murder conspiracy, and use of a gun in crimes involving drugs. The Sinaloa cartel boss was convicted to life in prison in July 2019. He is currently detained at ADX Florence, a supermax prison in Colorado.

READ MORE: El Chapo's Sinaloa Cartel Continues to Thrive Despite the Drug Lord's Absence: Report 

This article is owned by Latin Post

Written by: Mary Webber

WATCH: Son of El Chapo's Partner Gives Detailed Testimony About Sinaloa Cartel - From CBS News