Two California men were detained on Monday at a hotel in Queens, New York, close to John F. Kennedy International Airport after they were allegedly found in possession of over 32,000 fentanyl pills with a $1 million street value.
A two-month investigation culminated in the arrest of Pierre-Lys Roodolph, 33, of San Diego, and Uriel Barajas-Valencia, 50, of Perris. The two men were allegedly seen buying drugs behind a Hampton Inn on 135th Avenue in Queens.
In a statement released by Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City Bridget G. Brennan, it was revealed that Barajas-Valencia had planned the transportation and distribution of around 32,000 fentanyl pills.
Brennan stated that the arrests “show our unwavering efforts to stop deadly fentanyl pills from reaching the streets.” “Together with our law enforcement allies, we have recently confiscated hundreds of thousands of fentanyl tablets and taken millions of dollars away from their sources. Our efforts to preserve lives are highlighted by this seizure and the detention of two defendants with California addresses close to Kennedy Airport.”
— New York Post Metro (@nypmetro) November 23, 2022
At 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 21, according to authorities, Roodolph left an elevator inside the hotel while carrying a brown box. The two men then strolled outside to the hotel’s back before he ran into Barajas-Valencia in the lobby.
Agents observed the two men as they moved in between two parked cars, where Roodolph is accused of setting the brown box he was carrying on the ground.
The two men were contacted by members of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, who then took the package away from them. Four bundles, each wrapped in cloth and cellophane, were found inside, according to the press release.
There were alleged blue “M 30”-labeled fentanyl tablets inside each shipment.
Both guys were detained, and the next day they appeared in court in Manhattan for their arraignments.
Each defendant’s bail was set by the judge upon their arraignment at $50,000 cash and $100,000 bond.
Acting State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, “I appreciate the coordinated work of our New York State Police members and law enforcement partners that has resulted in the arrest of these two individuals.” Every seizure and arrest “saves lives and reduces the additional crime that surrounds these illicit and dangerous substances,” according to the statement.
Members of the New York City Police Department and New York State Police collaborated on the investigation with the Drug Enforcement Task Force of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA will run a thorough lab analysis on the purported fentanyl.