$3 million drug bust leads to Uber driver, passenger’s arrest in Central Park

NEW YORK — The alleged members of a fentanyl-traffic ring were arrested Monday after an undercover operation exposed the group's dealings near Central Park in Manhattan, Pix11 reports.

Officers seized nearly 20 pounds of suspected fentanyl and heroin and arrested four people. The street value of the drugs seized is estimated at a minimum of $3 million. It could be worth millions more because of the fentanyl's potency.

“The volume of heroin and highly potent fentanyl entering New York City is staggering, but so is the amount being removed from the streets as a result of successful collaborations between law enforcement partners," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan.  "In this case millions of dollars in suspected heroin and fentanyl was seized just steps from Central Park, a top destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike."

Agents watching a Central Park West building spotted David Rodriguez getting into an Uber and decided to follow him, officials said. About 15 blocks later, they stopped the car and found packages containing what is believed to be fentanyl and heroin.

Rodriguez and the driver were both arrested.

Agents with the Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Office later arrested two more men at the apartment, officials said. They searched the apartment and found about 3 kilograms of a suspected fentanyl and heroin combination from inside a hall closet, as well as 1,100 individual-dose glassine envelopes that had been filled with powder and stamped with the brand name “UBER.”

They also found a loaded .25-caliber Beretta pistol wedged between two couch cushions.

The men arrested were hit with controlled substance and conspiracy charges.

Fentanyl is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin and is increasingly found mixed into the illicit narcotics supply in New York City. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James Hunt believes fentanyl is the deadliest street drug ever to hit the city.

"This seizure alone contains enough potency to kill half of the population of New York City, if laboratory analysis proves it is all fentanyl," he said.