Two California men were arrested at a Hampton Inn at John F. Kennedy Airport Monday allegedly in possession of 32,000 fentanyl pills, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor said Wednesday.
An investigation by authorities implicated 33-year-old Roodolph Pierre-Lys, of San Diego and Uriel Barajas-Valencia, of Perris, California, in the shipment of the pills and a handoff in the Hampton Inn parking lot.
“Deadly fentanyl has caused destruction in far too many neighborhoods across this borough and the State,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “This lethal drug has also accounted for 76% of all overdose fatalities in Queens County this year. We will not relent in our efforts to rid our communities of this poison.”
Federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency observed the two men meet in the lobby of the hotel Monday morning, prosecutors said in a release. Pierre-Lys allegedly exited an elevator with a brown box and met Barajas-Valencia before they both exited the back of the hotel.
The pair was then observed stopping between two parked cars where Pierre-Lys placed the box on the ground next to Barajas-Valencia, according to the release. Federal agents approached the men and took possession of the box.
Inside, four packages were wrapped in cellophane and cloth. Authorities unwrapped the packages and said they contained 32,000 blue fentanyl pills marked “M 30,” the label used for oxycodone, an opioid pain medicine.
Authorities noted the DEA was still conducting a laboratory analysis on the pills.
Barajas-Valencia and Pierre-Lys were each charged with first- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. At an arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday, a judge set bail for both men at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond.
There were 820 opioid overdoses treated at New York City emergency departments the first three months of 2022, according to an analysis by the state comptroller.