Two California men were arrested Monday at a hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, after they were allegedly in possession of some 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 came to a head when the two men were allegedly caught conducting a drugs behind a Hampton. Inn at 135th Avenue in Queens.
According to a press release issued by New York City Narcotics Special Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, the investigation found that Barajas-Valencia orchestrated the shipment and delivery of some 32,000 fentanyl pills.
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“The arrests announced today reflect our tireless efforts to prevent deadly fentanyl pills from hitting 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 deprived suppliers of millions of dollars. This seizure and the arrest of two defendants in California near the airport Kennedy highlight our work to save lives.”
During the investigation, Roodolph emerged from an elevator inside the hotel at 11:30 a.m. on November 21 with a brown box, police said. He then met Barajas-Valencia inside the hotel lobby before both men went out to the back of the hotel.
Deputies watched as the two men walked 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 recovered the box. Inside, the press release said, were four packages, each wrapped in cloth and cellophane.
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Inside each packet were suspicious blue fentanyl pills marked “M 30.”
Both men were arrested and arraigned the next day in Manhattan criminal court.
At arraignment, the judge set $50,000 cash bond and $100,000 bond for each defendant.
“I applaud the collaborative work of our New York State Police members and law enforcement partners that resulted in the arrest of these two individuals,” said Acting State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli. “Every arrest, every seizure is saving lives and decreasing 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 with the investigation.
The DEA will perform a full laboratory analysis on the suspected fentanyl.