Two drug traffickers who were arrested during a traffic stop in California last week after they got allegedly busted with 150,000 pills of fentanyl have been released back onto the streets, officials said.
The two were booked into the county's pre-trial facility on charges of possession, transportation, and selling of illegal drugs.
"We felt it necessary to clear up any confusion there might be about the release process when it comes to our jail system," police 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," it explained. "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."
Police said although Mike Boudreaux, the sheriff of Tulare County, "strongly disagrees" with the judge's decision to release the alleged traffickers, citing public safety concerns, his office is forced to comply with the court order.
Detectives with the Tulare County High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Unit (HIDTA) found 150 packages, each with 1,000 pills, hidden inside the suspect's vehicle during last week's traffic stop.
The confiscated drugs have a street value of around $750,000, as each pill sells for about $5.
Some experts have noted that drug overdoses have been steadily increasing every year. However, in recent years, fentanyl, much of which is brought into the country via Mexican cartels from China, has triggered the recent spike in deaths.
Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a warning about a surge of fentanyl overdoses and mass overdose events.