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Men caught in California with 150,000 fentanyl pills skip court date after release on cashless bond

Jose Zendejas, above, and Benito Madrigal were caught with 150 packets each containing 1,000 fentanyl pills.
by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News July 24, 2022

Two men who were arrested in California while carrying 150,000 fentanyl pills failed to show up for their court date on July 21 after being released from custody on cashless bail.

Jose Zendejas, 25, and Benito Madrigal, 19, were released on their own recognizance less than a day after being arrested when, according to authorities, the large cache of fentanyl pills was found in their car during a traffic stop on June 24.

The judge in the case in Tulare County issued a warrant for their arrest and dropped the men’s $2 million bond.

When the men were pulled over last month, according to legal filings in the case, responding officers found 150 packages that each contained 1,000 fentanyl pills.

Authorities estimated the street value of the drugs to be around $750,000.

Officers also say they found two kilos of cocaine in the car during their search.

The Visalia Times Delta reported that the men were originally arrested and booked at the Tulare County Pretrial Facility, but the county’s probation department deemed them “low risk” and subsequently released them.

“I couldn’t believe we had 150,000 fentanyl pills — one of the most dangerous epidemics facing our nation today, with people in custody that we may potentially be able to impact the future of this type of drug trafficking organization… and we let them go,” Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux told Fox News.

Related: Illegal immigration spike, bad policies blamed for resurgence in fentanyl fatalities, July 1, 2022

Zendejas and Madrigal were charged with four counts — false compartment activity (basically, having a hidden space in a car), the sale or transportation of fentanyl, transportation of cocaine, and sale of cocaine. The amount of cocaine was cited as an aggravating circumstance on the last two charges.

If and when the two are arrested and brought to trial, each faces 14 years in state prison if convicted on all counts.

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