The reputed leader of a Mexican drug cartel appeared in Miami federal court Monday after his extradition from Guatemala on narco-trafficking charges accusing him of directing the largest shipment of methamphetamine to Miami-Dade in the county’s history.

Adalberto Comparan-Rodriguez, aka “Fruto,” who authorities say headed the United Cartels in Michoacán and served as the mayor of Aguililla, Mexico, has been charged along with five other defendants.

The alleged meth-export scheme was hatched in January of last year when Comparan-Rodriguez and his partner Alfonso Rustrian met in Cali, Colombia, with a U.S. undercover operative whom they believed to be a money launderer and drug trafficker affiliated with Hezbollah, according to an indictment and other court records.

Rustrian explained that Comparan-Rodriguez was the leader of the United Cartels, and that they could supply hundreds of kilograms of meth to the purported Hezbollah buyer, court records say. They ultimately agreed that Comparan-Rodriguez and Rustrian would send 500 kilograms of crystal meth from Mexico, through Texas, to the Miami area.

Last year, the duo arranged for a truck to carry concrete tiles filled with the meth load, court records say. The alleged ringleader’s son, Adalberto Comparan-Bedolla, helped crack open the concrete tiles and remove about 200 kilos of meth at a Miami-area warehouse in March of last year. The rest of the meth, more than 300 kilos, arrived in another shipment later that month at the same location.

This time, it was dissolved within five-gallon buckets of house paint, federal prosecutors say. Comparan-Bedolla and two chemists, Silviano Gonzalez-Aguilar and Salvador Valdez, worked for days inside the warehouse, extracting the crystal meth from the paint, prosecutors say.


“Law enforcement agents seized the meth before it hit the streets and made arrests,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami said in a news release.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s seizure of the 550 kilos of crystal meth — 1,200 pounds — was the largest in Miami-Dade County history.

To date, Comparan-Bedolla has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to possess and distribute meth in the United States and been sentenced to 11 years in prison, court records show. Gonzalez-Aguilar and Valdez, the chemists, have also pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge and been sentenced to six years and five years, respectively.

Comparan-Rodriguez’s partner, Rustrian, who was extradited to Miami in January, plans to cut a plea deal at a hearing in mid-July, according to court records.

Comparan-Rodriguez, who was extradited from Guatemala over the weekend, faces a detention hearing and arraignment. His defense attorney, Rene Sotorrio, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

An associate, Carlos Basauri-Coto, who is described in court papers as a money launderer with investment companies, is awaiting trial.


The Miami meth case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederic Shadley, contrasts with the typical cocaine, heroin and opioid distribution probes in South Florida. It reflects a resurgence of meth shipments pouring over the southern border of the United States, authorities say.

The new wave of meth is shifting the focus from opioids to this crystal stimulant — a drug that used to be common, then faded, but is resurging — via illegal imports from meth superlabs in Mexico. And much of what’s being sold is no longer low-grade meth home-cooked in some ramshackle Florida trailer park.

In recent years, crystal meth has racked up more overdose victims and spurred bigger law enforcement probes into trafficking of the highly addictive drug.