Surprise! Drug dealers released without bail don't show up for arraignment

Last month the California Highway Patrol pulled over two men in Tulare County, which is part of California’s Central Valley about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Both men were from Washington state and when police performed a search of their vehicle they found 150,000 fentanyl pills:


25-year-old Jose Zendejas and 19-year-old Benito Madrigal were stopped Friday night on Hwy. 99 near Tulare Ave.

During a search, 150,000 pills were found hidden throughout the vehicle.

Boudreaux says the men brought the pills from Mexico and planned to take them to Washington State.

The men were booked into the Tulare County Jail on charges of possession, transportation, and the selling of illegal drugs.

In addition to the fentanyl, they also had two kilograms of cocaine in the vehicle. Based on the amount of drugs involved, they were booked into jail with a bail amount of $1 million each. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story.

…when Tulare County Probation Department submitted a pre-trial risk assessment of the suspects to the Tulare County Superior Court, the men were classified as “low risk” and released on their own recognizance.

DA and Tulare County sheriff officials say they weren’t consulted regarding the release…

If convicted on all counts, Zendejas and Madrigal face up to 14 years in state prison…

The men are expected back in court on July 21. After being released from jail, law enforcement officers haven’t been able to locate the defendants.

So today is July 21, the day the defendants were expected back in court. Big surprise, neither one of them showed up. The Sheriff believes they have fled the country.


Defendants Jose Zendejas, 25, and Benito Madrigal, 19 – released on their own recognizance less than 24 hours after their arrest with the large stash of illicit drugs – were scheduled to appear for their arraignments at the Tulare County Courthouse in central California Thursday morning, but failed both men failed to show face…

Before Thursday, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said he did not expect the defendants to show up. He placed blame on the state’s soft-on-crime attitude and so-called criminal justice reform for a policy that allowed the two alleged drug traffickers to go free with nothing but a promise to come to court.

“I didn’t learn about the order until it was far too late,” Boudreaux previously told Fox News. “I couldn’t believe we had 150,00 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.”

The Tulare County DA compared the release to a social experiment being run in California:

“The problem is once again the legislature and the state of California are trying to go down some social experiment born on the back of law-abiding citizens,” Ward said. “I go out on a limb and say that had these defendants been subject to the million bail that was in place when they were arrested, and they made bail based on that amount, they would have some skin in the game, some financial obligation and motivation to return to court.”


I don’t know how decisions this boneheaded get made but I’m willing to bet that in this case no one will be held responsible. Everyone was just checking the boxes and following the algorithms they’ve been instructed to follow. No one was using their brain enough to realize releasing these two drug mules was a very bad idea. Instead of using them to go after higher levels of the organization, these two are probably sitting somewhere in Mexico having a Margarita and a good laugh at the state of California.

Finally, here’s a local news report about the release.

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