TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Arrested and then released, Tulare County Sheriff Michael Boudreaux is questioning why two suspects are back on the streets after being taken into custody for drug trafficking $750,000 dollars worth of fentanyl pills.
Both the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney say they are frustrated and were completely unaware of their release over the weekend.
“I doubt very seriously we’ll see them again without a warrant for their arrest,” said Sheriff Boudreaux.
“We had not even received police reports and I’m not sure that the sheriff’s department had completed all the reports so how can a decision of this magnitude be made until you know all the facts,” said District Attorney Tim Ward.
25-year-old Jose Zendejas and 19-year-old Benito Madrigal were pulled over by CHP Friday night with the help of Tulare deputies.
Investigators say the two suspects had 150,000 fentanyl pills hidden in their vehicle.
“These are people heavily involved in a drug trafficking organization” added the sheriff.
The case was set to be handled by the Tulare DA’s Office Monday but never made it to their desk.
“Neither of us were aware Monday morning that this had happened over the weekend” added Ward.
That’s when Ward said he called Sheriff Boudreaux to find out what happened.
“They did everything via computer, they just looked at the booking charges they didn’t contact the sheriff’s
office, they didn’t contact me, they didn’t contact the investigators,” explained Sheriff Boudreaux.
Over the weekend, the probation department had performed a ‘risk assessment’ and declared the suspects as very low risk to become repeat offenders.
“It certainly sends the wrong message to the community right now. We were on standby to get these police reports and then oddly, we started getting phone calls at the front desk about why we released these people” added Ward.
Authorities say the two suspects were heading to their home state of Washington. Officials believe the suspects are part of a drug trafficking organization operating in Mexico.
“The significance and magnitude of this case alone would argue that these people need to be held in custody just based on good common sense and that’s just not what happened here,” said the sheriff.
The Tulare County Probation Department sent out a statement Tuesday night, writing, in part:
“The Probation Department does not have the authority to order the release of inmates and we did not make a recommendation for release of these individuals. The assessment process is not done “behind the scenes”, the development and implementation of Pretrial functions in Tulare County was a collaborative and transparent process involving representatives from our law enforcement partners.”