A resident of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested in New York City on Sunday with $5 million worth of fentanyl hidden inside the gas tank of an SUV, authorities said Wednesday.
Enrique Perez, 44, was driving a red Ford Expedition with a Texas license plate through the Bronx when authorities conducting a short-term surveillance investigation stopped the vehicle, the Drug Enforcement Administration said.
A New York City police dog alerted officers and agents to the presence of narcotics inside the SUV, but they were initially unable to find any drugs.
During an inspection of Perez’s phone, authorities said they found photographs of "bundles of cash" and what appeared to be a secret access point to the SUV’s gas tank from inside the vehicle.
Agents uncovered the hidden access point beneath the vehicle’s rear floor and found about 300,000 blue fake oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of powdered fentanyl inside vacuum-sealed packages that were submerged in the vehicle’s gas tank.
The narcotics have an estimated street value of $5 million.
Investigators said the seized fentanyl is believed to have come from Mexico. The investigation determined that the vehicle has crossed the U.S.-Mexico border multiple times.
Perez was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and third degrees. His bail was set at $200,000.