Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
A California court ordered the release of two alleged drug traffickers less than a day after they were arrested with over 100,000 fentanyl pills, Fox News reported.
Tulare County law enforcement arrested 25-year-old Jose Zendejas, and 19-year-old Benito Madrigal, both of Washington state, after stopping their vehicle near Highway 99 and Tulare Avenue at about 7:30 p.m. June 24, according to KFSN-TV in Fresno.
The two men were found with 150,000 fentanyl pills in their vehicle, the station reported. Investigators estimated that the total amount of drugs the men had would sell for $750,000 in street value, according to KSFN.
The men were subsequently booked into the Tulare County Pre-trial facility on charges of drug possession, drug transportation, and sale of unlawful drugs.
However, local law enforcement received the court order demanding the men be released 18 hours later, Fox News national correspondent William La Jeunesse on “America’s Newsroom.“
Tulare County Court Commissioner Mikki Verissimo ordered the men’s release, according to Fox News national correspondent Bill Melugin, wrote in a Twitter post, noting that Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux was “infuriated” by the order.
We’ve learned that Tulare Co. Court Commissioner Mikki Verissimo signed the order to release the men. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux says on @FoxNews that “California’s system of justice is failing us all”, and that when he found out about the release of the men, he was “infuriated”. pic.twitter.com/Aby74ZvjvA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) June 28, 2022
Fox did not report the reasoning for the release.
However, in an interview with Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” Boudreaux blamed “soft-on-crime” California lawmakers, and said, “California’s system of justice is failing us all.”
According to protocol, inmates booked into Tulare County jails would undergo a risk assessment procedure with the county’s probation department.
Once the procedure is complete, a judge with the county court would review the risk assessment and determine if the arrested individual would be held on bail or released.
Boudreaux told Fox News that he disagreed with Verissimo’s decision to let the suspects go. However, his office had to comply with the order despite the public safety concerns.
According to authorities, police seized 150 packages each containing 1,000 fentanyl pills, when they arrested the two men.
Two similar drug busts occurred recently in Texas and California.
On June 27, the Tarrant County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office announced that it had arrested 11 suspects possessing 15,000 fentanyl pills and 11 firearms, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas.
The sheriff’s office said two of the suspects face charges related to a death caused by the drugs they trafficked. Officials did not provide any further details, according to the WFAA.
The next day, the California Highway Police said it had interdicted a vehicle transporting around 37 pounds of pills believed to be fentanyl in Merced County, according to KFSN.
Law enforcement apprehended the vehicle’s passengers and its driver, KFSN reported.
A synthetic opioid thought to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, fentanyl is a highly addictive drug.
Fentanyl consumption can result in respiratory difficulty and death when taken in large doses or mixed with other substances such as alcohol, heroin or cocaine.
The narcotic is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths annually and is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, according to a Fox News report from December.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
CORRECTION, July 16, 2022: The Western Journal has deleted from this article a sentence that read, “The impounded drugs amounted to enough to kill several million people, police said.” In the first place, it was Fox News anchor John Roberts who said this, not a police source. In the second, it’s hard to see how 150,000 pills could wind up killing “several million people.” Rather than try to parse Roberts’ thinking, it seemed to make more sense to delete the statement completely.