PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — City leaders are demanding answers after a New York man accused of trafficking $1.6 million worth of fentanyl to Pittsburgh failed to show up for his court hearing Monday.
Yan Carlos Pichardo Cepeda was arrested on Aug. 31 in Pittsburgh following a trip from New York. A search of his bags turned up 9 kilograms of fentanyl, the attorney general's office said.
District Justice Xander Orenstein released Cepeda on a signature bond, and now the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office said the judge did not make a good decision to release the suspect on a signature bond because no one can contact him.
"This is why he borders on ludicrous that he did this. It's inexplicable," Allegheny County Councilperson Sam DeMarco said.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said his office is seeking a court order from the president judge to make sure this does not happen again.
"If there is in fact a recommendation that is not followed by them, then we're gonna ask the court to immediately make sure that is available to my office so that we can take appropriate steps immediately to address somebody before they're released from the county jail," he said.
Zapalla's political opponent thinks it does not matter what a district judge decides. He thinks the district attorney's office dropped the ball.
"This was a breakdown," said Dugan, who is running for district attorney. "As soon as cuffs hit an individual's wrists, that's the district attorney's case."
KDKA-TV Investigates learned the district attorney's office submitted a request to modify Cepeda's bail late last week. Cepeda went before the magistrate on Sept. 1.
"They waited an entire week," Dugan said. "Now, this individual who is bringing again $2 million worth of fentanyl into our city is now gone. He didn't appear for the hearing, which is not a surprise. And now we have no idea where he is."
Zappala acknowledges two families in Allegheny County lose their loved ones every day to fentanyl.
"These are the circumstances, and this is what happened and a judge made a decision that unfortunately normal route to address it and correct it wasn't followed. And that's probably because of the holiday weekend," he said.
Attempts to contact Cepeda, his father and his grandmother were unsuccessful, officials said.
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