Leader of Mexico’s United Cartels and Others Charged in South Florida Federal Court with Importing Over 1200 Pounds of Crystal Methamphetamine
MIAMI - South Florida federal prosecutors have charged the leader of a notorious Mexican drug cartel and five others for their alleged roles in importing into the United States over 500 kilograms of Mexican methamphetamine. In the largest methamphetamine seizure in Miami-Dade County history, law enforcement agents seized the over 1,200 pounds of crystal meth before it ever hit the streets.
The defendants are charged in two separate complaints with drug conspiracy, drug trafficking, drug importation, and other crimes. One complaint charges Adalberto Fructuoso Comparan-Rodriguez, a/k/a “Fruto,” 57, who is the former mayor of Aguililla, Mexico and, according to the allegations, the leader of the United Cartels in Michoacán, Mexico, with drug trafficking crimes. It also charges Alfonso Rustrian, 34, of Mexico, as a coconspirator. See Case No. 21-mj-2570. Both Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian were arrested in Guatemala on March 30, 2021, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant. They face extradition to the United States for prosecution in the Southern District of Florida.
A second criminal complaint charges another four defendants for their roles in the alleged methamphetamine scheme: Adalberto Fructuoso Comparan-Bedolla, 31 (the son of Comparan-Rodriguez), Carlos Basauri-Coto, 31, Silviano Gonzalez-Aguilar, 44, and Salvador Valdez, 34. See Case No. 21-mj-2614. Law enforcement officers arrested these four defendants in Miami on March 30, 2021. They have made their initial appearances and are scheduled for detention hearings in federal magistrate court in Miami on April 7, 2021.
“These significant arrests and drug seizures of crystal methamphetamine should serve notice that the United States, working hand-in-hand with our international partners, will not stop until drug traffickers at the highest levels are brought to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Juan Antonio Gonzalez. “We will continue to work with our foreign and domestic partners to keep these poisonous substances from reaching our streets.”
“As the threat of methamphetamine continues to grow in Florida, this was yet another brazen attempt by a highly organized and dangerous foreign criminal group to set up a significant methamphetamine pipeline from Mexico directly into the Miami Metro Area.” said DEA’s Miami Field Division Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis. “Fortunately, our dedicated foreign and domestic investigators and prosecutors from numerous agencies, interdicted this effort by making record seizures of an extremely hazardous narcotic while simultaneously removing the primary leadership.”
According to the criminal complaint affidavits, in January 2021, Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian met in Cali, Colombia with a person they believed to be a money launderer and drug trafficker associated with Hezbollah (“purported drug buyer”). Rustrian explained that Comparan-Rodriguez was a leader of the United Cartels, and that they could supply hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine to the purported drug buyer, say the affidavits. They ultimately agreed that Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian would send 500 kilograms of methamphetamine from Mexico, through Texas, to the Miami area, according to the charges.
To make the methamphetamine undetectable, members of the illegal drug organization hid it inside different materials. On March 20, 2021, according to the allegations, a truck carrying concrete tiles filled with methamphetamine arrived in Miami. It is alleged that Comparan-Bedolla helped crack the concrete tiles open and remove approximately 200 kilograms of methamphetamine from them. The rest of the meth (over 300 kilograms) arrived in Miami on March 26, 2021, say the court documents. This time, it was dissolved within five-gallon buckets of house paint. According to the allegations, Comparan-Bedolla and two chemists (Gonzalez-Aguilar and Valdez) worked for days inside a warehouse, extracting pure crystal methamphetamine from the paint. Law enforcement agents seized the meth before it hit the streets and made arrests.
Also according to the charging documents, throughout the conspiracy, defendant Basauri-Coto was in charge of laundering the methamphetamine sales proceeds for the organization. Basauri-Coto proposed laundering the money through two of his companies and flying out over $4,000,000 in cash via private jet, say the charging documents. It is alleged that on March 30, 2021, soon before his arrest, Basauri-Coto accepted a suitcase full of cash for this purpose.
This case was investigated by the DEA Miami Field Division, the DOJ Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the DEA Mexico City, Guatemala City, and Bogota Country Offices, and received assistance from the Hialeah Police Department (PD); Hialeah Gardens PD; City of Miami PD; Aventura PD; Miami Beach PD; Miami-Dade County PD; and Miramar PD. IT is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
This investigation and prosecution was carried out by members of the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force. The South Florida HIDTA, established in 1990, is made up of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who, cooperatively, target the region’s drug-trafficking and money laundering organizations. The South Florida HIDTA is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which sponsors a variety of initiatives focused on the nation’s illicit drug trafficking threats.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case numbers 21-mj-2570 and 21-mj-2614.