By Noi Mahoney of FreightWaves,
More than 1,100 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in shipments of concrete tiles were intercepted in March by federal agents in Miami, leading to the arrests of six alleged Mexican cartel traffickers, officials said.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) seizure of the crystal meth is the largest in Miami-Dade County history, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The methamphetamine was shipped by truck in two loads from Mexico through Texas to South Florida, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
“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,” Keith Weis, DEA’s Miami field division special agent in charge, said in a release.
Officials did not give a dollar amount to the methamphetamine seized in Miami. In December 2020, border officials in Pharr, Texas, discovered 1,853 pounds of meth, which had a street value of $37 million.
Authorities have charged Adalberto Fructuoso Comparan-Rodriguez, whose nickname is “Fruto,” the former mayor of Aguililla, Mexico, and the reported leader of the United Cartels in Michoacán, Mexico, with drug trafficking crimes, according to the indictment.
Alfonso Rustrian, of Mexico, has also been charged as a co-conspirator. Another four defendants were charged for their roles in the alleged methamphetamine scheme.
According to court filings, Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian met in Cali, Colombia, with whom they believed were members of Hezbollah but were actually undercover DEA agents. Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian agreed to send 1,100 pounds of methamphetamine from Mexico through Texas to the Miami area, according to the charges.
Once the meth arrived in Miami, Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian allegedly cracked open the concrete tiles and dissolved the meth inside 5-gallon buckets of house paint. The men are alleged to have extracted the pure crystal meth from the paint.
The Miami case reflects a resurgence of meth shipments pouring over the southern border of the U.S., authorities said.