Two California men were arrested Monday at a hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, after allegedly being in possession of about 32,000 fentanyl pills with an estimated street value of $1 million.
Pierre-Lys Roodolph, 33, of San Diego, and Uriel Barajas-Valencia, 50, of Perris, were arrested after a two-month investigation that came to a head when the two men were allegedly caught conducting a drug transaction behind a Hampton Inn on the 135th Avenue in Queens.
According to a press release from New York City’s Special Narcotics Attorney Bridget G. Brennan, the investigation found that Barajas-Valencia orchestrated the shipment and delivery of about 32,000 fentanyl pills.
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“The arrests announced today reflect our relentless efforts to keep deadly fentanyl pills from reaching the streets,” Brennan said. “Over the past few weeks, working with our law enforcement partners, we have seized hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills and stolen millions of dollars from suppliers. This seizure and arrest of two California resident defendants near Kennedy Airport underscores our work to save lives.”
During the investigation, Roodolph exited an elevator at the hotel at 11:30 a.m. on November 21, carrying a brown box, police said. He then met Barajas-Valencia in the hotel lobby before both men went outside to the back of the hotel.
Agents watched the two men pass between two parked cars, where Roodolph allegedly placed the brown box he was carrying on the ground between them.
Members of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force approached the two men and retrieved the box. Inside, the press release said, were four packages, each wrapped in cloth and cellophane.
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Inside each pack were suspicious blue fentanyl pills marked “M 30”.
Both men were arrested and charged the next day in a Manhattan criminal court.
At the indictment, the judge ordered bail of $50,000 in cash and $100,000 bail for each defendant.
“I applaud the cooperation of our members of the New York State Police and our law enforcement partners in leading to the arrest of these two individuals,” said Acting State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli. “Every arrest, every seizure saves lives and reduces the additional crime surrounding these illegal and dangerous drugs.”
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Along with the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Drug Enforcement Task Force, members of the New York City Police Department and the New York State Police assisted in the investigation.
A full lab analysis of the alleged fentanyl is being conducted by the DEA.