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Former trucking company owner, a Sinaloa Cartel member, sentenced with others for drug trafficking

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Former trucking company owner, a Sinaloa Cartel member, sentenced with others for drug trafficking
According to federal authorities, these rainbow-colored pressed fentanyl pills, which resemble the popular Skittles candy, were distributed by Roque “Skittles Man” Bustamante, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel. Bustamante, along with six other cartel members and associates, were recently sentenced to federal prison. (Courtesy: U.S. Attorney's Office)

WASHINGTON — Seven members of the Sinaloa Cartel, including one who operated a trucking company, have been sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty to possessing several types of recreational drugs, including fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern Florida District, Hector Alejandro Apodaca-Alvarez, 53, of Somerton, Arizona; Mark Anthony Roque Bustamante, 33, of Yuma, Arizona; Jorge Moreno, 28, of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico; Jonathan Nicholas Chavez, 25, of Brawley, California; Luis Tejada Velasquez, 37, of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico; Austin Toma Gruppe, 43, of Providence, Rhode Island; and Jose Chavez Zaragoza, 38, of Yuma, Arizona, participated in the drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute the controlled substances.

Tejada Velasquez was sentenced on May 15 to 242 months in prison.

On May 2, Roque Bustamante was sentenced to life in prison; Grupee was sentenced to 262 months in prison; and Chavez was sentenced to 57 months in prison.

On March 21, Apodaca-Alvarez was sentenced to life in prison; Moreno to 121 months; and Zaragoza to 47 months.

In addition, Apodaca-Alvarez agreed to forfeit his entire trucking business and Arizona-based residence.

“When you consider the quantity of drugs being trafficked and the deleterious impact illicit narcotics have on our community, it is readily apparent that these defendants sold drugs for the sole purpose of profiting off a public health crisis — addiction,” said U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida. “The fentanyl epidemic, to include here in south Florida, has caused a deafening silence as thousands of people have overdosed and died. We commend our partner agencies as we work collectively to prosecute the members and associates of cartels that fuel the drug poisoning crisis and traffic in firearms.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Drug Threat Assessment, the Sinaloa Cartel is at the heart of the fentanyl crisis. The DEA states that the cartel has “developed global supply chain networks and operates clandestine labs in Mexico where they manufacture these drugs and then utilize their vast distribution networks to transport the drugs into the United States.” 

From June 2022 through May 2023, Apodaca-Alvarez, who was previously convicted of narcotics trafficking-related offenses in three federal districts prior to his arrest in this case, used the U.S. mail and his own trucking business to send tens of thousands of pressed fentanyl pills and kilogram-quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine to an undercover agent based in South Florida.

The undercover agent also conducted narcotic and monetary transactions with Apodaca-Alvarez and codefendants in California, Arizona, and Massachusetts. Apodaca-Alvarez told the undercover agent he was coordinating directly with members of the Sinaloa Cartel to facilitate the large-scale distribution of narcotics and stated that the potency of the pressed fentanyl pills that he sold “was dropping people everywhere.” Apodaca-Alvarez worked directly with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, a co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel.

During the conspiracy, Apodaca-Alvarez coordinated with the remaining co-defendants to assist in distributing the controlled substances throughout the United States, including Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.

Law enforcement officers were also able to identify Roque “Skittles Man” Bustamante, as he distributed rainbow-colored fentanyl pills as Apodaca-Alvarez’s primary source of supply.

In recorded conversations, Apodaca-Alvarez and Roque Bustamante inquired if the undercover agent would supply them with firearms, including .50 caliber high-powered rifles to be smuggled into Mexico.

“The significant sentences imposed by the court reflect the deadly nature of the crimes committed by Mexican cartel members in flooding our communities with fentanyl and other lethal drugs,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Our law enforcement officers work across the U.S. and around the globe to combat the cartels’ firearms and drug trafficking, which wreak so much violence and devastation in our communities.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Fort Lauderdale Field Division investigated the case, with assistance from DEA, Homeland Security Investigations Miami, Broward Sheriff’s Office, ATF Yuma Field Division, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

“Guns and drugs are often linked, particularly when it comes to the cartels,” said ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. “ATF is committed to working with all our partners to hold accountable those who spread poison in our streets and arm those who supply that poison. This case exemplifies the incredible work going on every day by ATF agents and analysts around the country to protect the American public from dangerous criminals.”

Erica N. Guy

Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Erica N. Guy decided to stay in her hometown to begin her professional career in journalism. Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree from UAPB, Erica has professionally written for several publications about several topics ranging from lifestyle, tech, culture, and entertainment, just to name a few. Continuing her love for her hometown, she joined our team in June 2023, where she is currently a staff writer. Her career goals include continuing storytelling through her writing by being the best professional writer she can be. In her spare time, Erica enjoys trying new foods, cozying up with a good book, spending time with family and friends, and establishing herself as a future businesswoman.

Avatar for Erica N. Guy
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Erica N. Guy decided to stay in her hometown to begin her professional career in journalism. Since obtaining her bachelor's degree from UAPB, Erica has professionally written for several publications about several topics ranging from lifestyle, tech, culture, and entertainment, just to name a few. Continuing her love for her hometown, she joined our team in June 2023, where she is currently a staff writer. Her career goals include continuing storytelling through her writing by being the best professional writer she can be. In her spare time, Erica enjoys trying new foods, cozying up with a good book, spending time with family and friends, and establishing herself as a future businesswoman.
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Former trucking company owner, a Sinaloa Cartel member, sentenced with others for drug trafficking

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wow,this was an amazingly done.i know that this should put some peaceful mind to alot of people that drugs are being caught and off the streets and family’s should be able to over come this crisis.with plot more ease.thank you

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