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New York Man Charged for Research Chemical Importation

In late August, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and several officials from law enforcement agencies announced the indictment of a man from Queens in connection to an early August package interception. According to the announcement, United States Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted a package with a Schedule I controlled substance analogue in early August that the defendant had planned to distribute as MDMA.

The indictment was announced by Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the Acting Director of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s New York Field Office, Frank Russo. Special Agent in Charge of the New York Homeland Security Investigations, Angel M. Melendez. United States District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis is overseeing the case. United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon arraigned the defendant at the late August hearing.

“This is another case where interagency cooperation has stopped the attempted international distribution of a dangerous ‘designer’ drug, in this case one mimicking Ecstasy,” stated ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “Whether via the Internet or regular mail, HSI and cooperating agencies are penetrating these operations, no matter how big or how small, on a regular basis and bringing the individuals involved to justice.”

Alfredo Rodriguez, a resident of Jamaica, Queens, New York, admitted ordering more than 2,000 grams of N-ethylpentylone (frequently called bk-Ethyl-K but vendors frequently mislabel N-ethylpentylone) from a source on the internet to mail it. Rodriguez pleaded guilty to both counts listed in the two-count indictment: one count of possession with intent to distribute a Schedule I controlled substance analogue and conspiracy to distribute a Schedule I controlled substance analogue. Assistant United States Attorney Justina L. Geraci filed the indictment on August 17, 2017.

Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and other law enforcement officers from local agencies arrested Rodriguez on August 2, 2018. Officers of the United States Customs and Border Protection service intercepted the N-ethylpentylone in late July. They noted that the drug resembled MDMA and rerouted the package to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, and a Homeland Security Investigations Field Office for testing. Although the United States Postal Inspection Service needs a warrant or probable cause to open a package, Customs and Border Protection officers—as long as they open the package with 100 miles of a border—need neither. Given that they had opened the package and discovered a drug they thought resembled MDMA, they did have the probable cause to send the package to a ICE, HSI Field Office for testing, though.

At the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations Field Office in New York, federal agents weighed and tested the suspected MDMA. As with all similar packages, they ran their tests with haste as to not alert the intended recipient. The product weighed more than 2,000 grams, Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Homeland Security Investigations Field Office said. The substance tested positive for N-ethylpentylone. Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez told the public that N-ethylpentylone was a “dangerous designer drug” that mimicked ecstasy. United States Attorney Donoghue made a statement with a similar claim.

After testing the package, Homeland Security Investigations coordinated an operation with the United States Postal Inspection Service. They planned a controlled delivery for August 2, 2018. Homeland Security Investigations had substituted the N-ethylpentylone for a fake substance and then had placed the package back into the mail stream. Federal agents worked with local law enforcement and the United States Postal Inspection Service on a controlled delivery and follow-up raid.

A controlled delivery was performed by the United States Postal Inspection Service. Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents then led a raid at Rodriguez’s property and arrested him. The date of his next court appearance has not been made public.

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