A routine traffic stop in Bayside last week resulted in the arrest of two out-of-state men allegedly smuggling two kilos of fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Tuesday, Dec. 7, that Luis Navarro Gonzalez and Juan Esquer have been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and other crimes.
Navarro Gonzalez, 26, of Bell Garden, California, and Esquer, 48, of Jalisco, Mexico, were arraigned Friday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Karen Gopee.
Katz said that on Wednesday, Dec. 1, defendant Navarro Gonzalez was seen driving a silver Ford Escape near Northern Boulevard and 204th Street in Bayside with Esquer in the passenger seat. Gonzalez allegedly made a right turn without signaling, which resulted in a car stop by the NYPD.
According to the charges, police executed a court-authorized search warrant for the interior of the vehicle and recovered two kilos of fentanyl allegedly from inside the Ford Escapade.
The packages were enfolded in green saran wrap bricks and were hidden in the passenger’s side airbag. A police lab confirmed the substance recovered was the synthetic drug fentanyl.
“Fentanyl has played a key role in the dramatic increase we’ve seen in fatal overdoses in Queens,” Katz said. “It is a dangerous drug that must be kept off our streets.”
Judge Gopee ordered the two defendants to return to court on Feb. 1. If convicted, Navarro Gonzalez and Esquer face up to 20 years in prison.