Uber Driver Busted With $3 Million Worth Of Heroin and Fentanyl

By Kelly Burch 08/09/17

Some of the baggies found in the bust were branded with the ride-share company's name.

A man holding phone displaying Uber app sitting in the back of an Uber

A New York City Uber driver and his associates have been charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy after authorities seized 20 pounds of heroin and fentanyl from an apartment and car. Some of the drugs were branded as “Uber.” 

Unique branding aside, the seizure was an important one for law enforcement. 

“Fentanyl is the deadliest street drug to ever hit this country,” James Hunt, special agent in charge of the DEA’s New York office, said in a press release. “This seizure alone contains enough potency to kill half of the population of New York City, if laboratory analysis proves it is all fentanyl. Fentanyl is manufactured death that drug dealers are mixing with heroin.”

The street value of the drugs is at least $3 million and could be more depending on how much of the haul was fentanyl and how much was heroin. 

Members of the DEA Strike Force, Financial Investigations Team (FIT), and the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s (SNP) Investigators Unit were observing an apartment near Central Park west as part of an ongoing investigation when they saw a man walk out with a large box and get into a car driven by an Uber driver. When they stopped the car they arrested David Rodriguez and Richard Rodriguez, the driver, after seeing what was believed to be drugs in the car. 

The authorities then got a search warrant for 448 Central Park West, Apt. 6D, where they found 1,100 individual dose envelopes that had been filled with a combination of fentanyl and heroin and "stamped with the brand name 'Uber.'”

They also found $30,000 in cash as well as cellphones, gloves, bags and other paraphernalia. 

On August 5, authorities arraigned Jesus Perez-Cabral, David Rodriguez, Johnny Beltrez, and Richard Rodriguez and set bails ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Richard Rodriguez, the Uber driver, was given the lowest bail at $1,000. 

In May, the New York Post reported that drug dealers in New York City were posing as Uber drivers so that they could loiter without attracting attention. Some of the fake drivers even had counterfeit stickers and logos from the ride sharing company. Some of those drivers were also caught by the DEA. 

“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. By reducing the supply of these dangerous drugs, we are saving lives and sending a clear message that those who seek to profit by peddling poison will be put out of business and brought to justice.” 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.