EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Mexican government has arrested a man it says is the principal producer of fentanyl pills and methamphetamine south of the border.
Jose Guadalupe Tapia Quintero, a.k.a. “Lupe Tapia,” was arrested last week in a town near Culiacan, Sinaloa, and brought before a judge in Mexico City, who arraigned him on drug and weapons charges, the Defense Ministry (SEDENA) said in a statement Sunday.
Tapia on Monday remained in the maximum security Cefereso prison in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico, the ministry said.
“It is worth noting that the suspect is considered the alleged principal producer of fentanyl pills and methamphetamine and is allegedly involved in large-scale transportation of cocaine from Central and South America to the United States,” the statement said.
Tapia allegedly oversees logistics for reputed Sinaloa cartel drug lord Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and is one of the main “generators of violence a menace to society,” the Ministry said.
A U.S. federal grand jury in Phoenix in 2013 indicted Tapia, the owner of several bus and tractor-trailer companies in Mexico, on charges of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other charges.
“As a transportation coordinator for the powerful Sinaloa cartel, Jose Guadalupe Tapia Quintero used his businesses to move large quantities of methamphetamine from the interior of Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border, including Arizona,” the DEA said at the time of the indictment.
Tapia also controlled key drug distribution routes from Sinaloa in northwest Mexico to destination points along the Southwest border, according to the DEA.
The U.S. Treasury Department a year later labeled Tapia as a senior lieutenant in the Sinaloa cartel and placed him under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The act allows the federal government to levy million-dollar civil penalties for each illegal act a target is found guilty of.
There was no word on Monday whether the U.S. government will seek to extradite Tapia to the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that fentanyl played a role in many of the record 107,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2022. International private security analysts say Mexican drug cartels import precursor chemicals from Asia and use industrial-sized warehouses to crank out fentanyl pills for export to the United States. The factories are located in Mexican states where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa cartel have influence over local communities and authorities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year seized more than 160,000 pounds (73 tons) of methamphetamine along the Southwest border and a record 14,100 pounds (6.4 tons) of fentanyl.