TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Criminal charges against two men from Washington state have been issued in Tulare County after they were arrested for allegedly trafficking $750,000 worth of fentanyl pills, according to the District Attorney’s office.
The Tulare County DA announced Thursday that felony controlled substance charges were filed against 25-year-old Jose Zendejas and 19-year-old Benito Madrigal. If convicted on all counts, each defendant could face up to 14 years in state prison.
Officials say the two suspects were pulled over by CHP on Friday night with 150,000 fentanyl pills hidden in their vehicle. According to the DA’s office, the next day, the Tulare County Probation Department submitted a pretrial risk assessment of the suspects which deemed them as “low risk.” That allowed the court to release the two men on their recognizance.
“I think we need to start looking at outcomes and how we can improve this situation and we need to stop doing this in the middle of the night until we can get to the bottom of it,” said District Attorney Tim Ward.
On Wednesday, DA’s office officials say detectives with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office submitted reports of the incident to the District Attorney for review, leading to the criminal charges being filed on Thursday. Following that hearing, a judge issued arrest warrants for the two suspects.
According to the DA’s office, a court appearance for the two suspects has been set for July 21.