California duo nabbed with $1M stash of fentanyl pills at JFK Airport hotel

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Authorities said Wednesday that two California men were caught with 32,000 fentanyl pills worth $1 million inside a hotel at John F. Kennedy Airport this week.

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New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said in a press release that Rudolph Pierre-Liss, 33, and Uriel Barajas-Valencia, 50, were taken into custody Monday following a multi-agency drug-trafficking investigation.

Authorities said Barajas-Valencia organized the delivery of the fatal pills to New York.


Brennan’s office said both men were arraigned Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court on first- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and were ordered to be held on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond.

“In recent weeks, working with our law enforcement partners, we have seized hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills and forfeited millions of dollars to suppliers,” Brennan said in a statement.

Two California men were arrested Monday near JFK airport with $1 million worth of fentanyl, local and federal officials said.
For Special Narcotics Prosecutor
Officials said the stash contained 32,000 rounds of ammunition.
Officials said the stash contained 32,000 rounds of ammunition.
For Special Narcotics Prosecutor
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“This seizure, and the arrest of two California-based defendants near Kennedy Airport, highlights our work to save lives.”

The investigation, conducted in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York State Police and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, is the latest in a series of operations to stem the flow of increasingly popular fentanyl in the area.

JFK International Airport.
Authorities have said that Mexican drug cartels are behind the surge in fentanyl.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Earlier this month, officers busted an alleged drug dealer in Chelsea with 20,000 rainbow-colored fentanyl pills – part of a disturbing trend of dangerous drugs being made to look like candy and targeting children.

Federal authorities said this week that Mexican drug cartels have turned Los Angeles into a major national distribution center for fentanyl.

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