TULARE COUNTY, CA – Two men have been released from a California jail just days after they were arrested with 150,000 fentanyl pills and the sheriff who put them behind bars is furious.
Jose Zendejas, 25, and Benito Madrigal, 19, were arrested during a traffic stop in Tulare County last Friday when authorities discovered the load of illegal pills stashed in their vehicle.
Investigators seized 150 packages with 1,000 fentanyl pills in each – enough to potentially kill several million people, the sheriff’s office said. Officials said each pill sells for about $5 – meaning the arrest netted about $750,000 worth of deadly drugs.
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
The two were booked into the Tulare County Pre-Trial Facility on charges of possession, transportation and sales of illegal drugs.
But Zendejas and Madrigal were released from custody on their own recognizance just days later after a judge granted them a court order.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Monday distancing itself from the decision to let the two men back on the streets, saying the agency felt it “necessary to clear up any confusion.” The statement said:
“All inmates booked into Tulare County jails are sent through what is known as the Risk Assessment Process through the Tulare County Probation Department.”
“That ‘Risk Assessment’ is then sent to a judge with the court, who, then, determines whether or not the individual arrested is held on bail or if they are to be released.”
The sheriff’s office said it received a court order to release Zendejas and Madrigal, who live in Washington state, on their own recognizance.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said he is “infuriated” that they were released without his knowledge. He said the state’s justice system is failing and he wants to see accountability.
During an appearance Tuesday on the Fox show “America’s Newsroom,” Sheriff Boudreaux said he was not informed of the release until it was “far too late.” He explained:
The sheriff told hosts Dana Perino and Trace Gallagher that he could not believe two suspects involved in one of America’s most dangerous epidemics had been released from custody. He said:
“California’s system of justice is failing us all. Law enforcement up and down the state of California is frustrated.”
“We need to be hard on crime, holding people who commit criminal acts accountable for everything they do. Our justice system needs reform.”
Boudreaux also stressed the need for secure borders to stop the flow of drugs such as fentanyl into the United States. He said:
“This has nothing to do with an immigration issue. This has to do with the security and protection of our country.”
It is unclear where the drugs came from, as the two men who were arrested were from Washington State. Much of the fentanyl found in the United States is made in Mexico and China, but authorities are now finding India-made fentanyl on the streets, according to a 2020 report by the DEA.
The proliferation of fentanyl in the United States has led to soaring overdose numbers in recent years. In 2021, more than 71,000 deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids, which includes fentanyl.
During the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020, an unprecedented number of Americans died of drug overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control:
“The U.S. recorded its highest ever number of drug-overdose deaths in a 12-month period from April 2020 to April 2021. These 100,306 deaths represent a nearly 29 percent increase from deaths recorded in the same period a year earlier.”
Border Patrol Union says they are lucky if they seize 5 percent of fentanyl pills coming across the southern border
February 8, 2022
The union for the United States Border Patrol is reporting that staffing levels for patrols are so low because they are busy processing illegal aliens into the country that massive amounts of drugs are coming in.
They claim that they are fortunate if they are able to stop five percent of fentanyl pills that are coming in from Mexico.
#BorderCrisis: “Cartels control the border right now,” Judd said.
US #BorderPatrol agents are so busy processing large groups of #IllegalAliens, that in one #Arizona area only 4 agents are available to patrol a 150-mile section of the #Border. https://t.co/q0Ielnve8d
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) February 7, 2022
Brandon Judd, the President of the National Border Patrol Council, reported that there are only roughly four federal agents patrolling an area of roughly 150 miles of the border. The reason is not because of COVID, but rather the agents are inundated with illegal aliens and have to process them into the country. Judd said:
“Now that 150 miles of border normally takes about 75-90 agents-we had four agents out there.”
With the few federal agents patrolling the border, Judd claims that leaves the area ripe for illegal drug smuggling. He said:
“Cartels control the border right now. They dictate to us what our operations are going to be. That should never happen.”
Judd then made the startling claim that 95 percent of the illegal drugs, specifically fentanyl, that the cartels are bringing into the country across the southern border are making it into the United States undetected.
This is somewhat backed up by the number of drug seizures that have been reported by United States Customs and Border Protection. Judd said:
“If we seize even 5 percent of [of fentanyl pill] what’s coming across the border, we’re lucky. And if there’s nobody there to detect you and apprehend you, the cartels are going to push it through between the ports of entry when they know that there is absolutely no chance that we’re going to apprehend that narcotic.”
According to Customs and Border Protection, the agency has seized roughly 316 pounds of fentanyl that were smuggled across the border in between different ports of entry.
So far, that is triple the amount of the narcotic that was seized during the same time frame last year.
At the ports of entry, Customs and Border Protection have been able to seize a total of 2,390 pounds of fentanyl during the first few months of the fiscal year 2022.
That is compared to a whopping 10,183 pounds during the same timeframe last year.
Fentanyl is seemingly manufactured in Mexico by using chemicals shipped to them from China.
Once the deadly drug is made, drug cartels ship it over the border to be sold into the United States. Judd alleges that little has been done since Democratic President Joe Biden took office to lessen the flow of drugs into the county. He said:
“There have been no new operations, policies, or programs put in place since this administration has taken office to help the Border Patrol go after criminal cartels and the profits that they are generating.”
Those profits that Judd alleges the cartels are raking in are shocking. He said:
“We have allowed the criminal cartels to create billions of dollars in revenue at the expense of U.S. citizens who are dying at a record rate in 2021.”
— Vera Eyzendooren (@AlwaysRightUSA) February 7, 2022
Judd said that the federal agents he represents are exhausted and feel “defeated.” He noted that morale for the federal agents is low and that more agents have left than they have been able to hire over the last year. He said:
“We go home every single day defeated. We feel like our time is wasted. Our only goal is to protect the citizens of this great nation – we are not allowed to do that at this time.”
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.