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An Uber driver was among those arrested in a massive drug bust in New York City on Friday. Authorities ultimately seized nearly 20 pounds of fentanyl and heroin worth millions, CBS New York reported. Some of the haul had been packaged in individual glassine envelopes stamped with the Uber logo, with additional stamps discovered containing references to The Walking Dead and McDonald's.
"This seizure alone contains enough potency to kill half of the population of New York City, if laboratory analysis proves it is all fentanyl," James J. Hunt, special agent in charge for the NY division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said in a news release Monday. "Fentanyl is manufactured death that drug dealers are mixing with heroin. I commend the brave men and women in law enforcement who are risking their lives tracking down this toxin before it contributes to more fatal overdoses."
The DEA—with assistance from the Financial Investigations Team and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Investigators Unit—were surveilling an Upper West Side apartment building when they spotted David Rodriguez getting into the backseat of Uber driver Richard Rodriguez's black Honda Accord. According to the DEA, David Rodriguez was carrying two boxes "inside a large white shopping bag" at the time.
The vehicle was later pulled over by investigators, at which point an already opened box revealed a tan powdery substance inside a clear plastic bag. After David and Richard were arrested, surveillance continued. Ultimately, two more individuals—Jesus Perez-Cabral and Johnny Beltrez—were also arrested. A search of the residence resulted in the discovery of stamps, a loaded weapon, $30,000 in cash, multiple phones, stamps, and additional powder. All four suspects were arraigned on charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
"It is a tragedy that with fatal overdoses at an all-time high, there is no shortage of demand for these opioids," Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations New York, said Monday.