Feds bust two California men with $1 million worth of fentanyl at hotel near JFK Airport

Federal agents arrested two California for alleged possession of fentanyl with a street value of around $1 million at a hotel near JFK Airport. (File photo by Jessica Rinaldi/AP)

Two California men were busted at a hotel near JFK International Airport and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance while they were attempting to traffic approximately 232,000 fentanyl pills with a street value of around $1 million, according to the city’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP).

Roodolph Pierre-Lys, 33, of San Diego, and Uriel Barajas-Valencia, 50, of Perris, Ca. were taken into custody at the Hampton Inn on Monday, Nov. 21 following a two-month multi-agency investigation.

“Deadly fentanyl has caused destruction in far too many neighborhoods across this borough and this state,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “This lethal drug has also accounted for 76% of all overdose deaths in Queens County this year. We will not relent in our efforts to rid our communities of this poison. I thank the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and our law enforcement partners for their work against the proliferation of this deadly narcotic in this borough.”

The two defendants were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on Nov. 22 in a criminal complaint charging them with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and third degrees.

“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,” Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said. “This seizure, and the arrest of two California-based defendants near Kennedy Airport, highlights our work to save lives.”

At around 11 a.m. on Nov. 21, federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) observed Pierre-Lys come off an elevator inside the Hampton Inn, located at 144-10 135th Ave. in South Jamaica, carrying a brown box. He met Barajas-Valencia inside the hotel lobby and the two men walked outside to the rear of the hotel. Investigators saw them go between two parked cars, at which point Pierre-Lys allegedly placed the brown box on the ground. Members of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force moved in and recovered the brown box. Inside were four packages, each wrapped in cellophane and cloth. The packages allegedly contained blue fentanyl pills marked “M 30” and the defendants were taken into custody.

“Trafficking illegal drugs in New York City puts our community at tremendous risk,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “The women and men of the NYPD work persistently to rid our streets of these deadly toxins, and we will continue to hold the criminals who deal with them accountable.”

Full DEA laboratory analysis to determine the contents of the narcotics is pending.

At their Nov. 22 arraignment, a Manhattan Criminal Court Judge set bail at $50,000 cash/$100,000 bond for each defendant.

More from Around New York