Two California men were arrested on Monday at a hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, after they were allegedly 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-long investigation that came to a head when the two men were allegedly caught conducting a drug transaction behind a Hampton Inn on 135th Avenue in Queens.
According to a press release issued by New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan, the investigation found Barajas-Valencia orchestrated the shipment and delivery of about 32,000 fentanyl pills.
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“The arrests announced today reflect our unrelenting efforts to prevent deadly fentanyl pills from reaching the streets,” Brennan said. “In recent 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 California-based defendants near Kennedy Airport, highlights our work to save lives.”
During the investigation, Roodolph exited an elevator inside the hotel at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 21, carrying a brown box, police said. He then met Barajas-Valencia inside the hotel lobby before both men walked outside to the rear of the hotel.
Agents 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 read, were four packages, each wrapped in cloth and cellophane.
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Inside each package were suspected blue fentanyl pills marked “M 30.”
Both men were placed under arrest and arraigned the next day in a Manhattan criminal court.
At arraignment, the judge set bail at $50,000 cash and $100,000 bond for each defendant.
“I applaud the collaborative work of our New York State Police members and law enforcement partners that has resulted in the arrest of these two individuals,” State Police acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said. “Each arrest, each seizure is saving lives and decreases the additional crime that surrounds these illegal and dangerous drugs.”
Along with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug Enforcement Task Force, members of the New York City Police Department and New York State Police assisted with the investigation.
A full lab analysis on the alleged fentanyl will be conducted by the DEA.