PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Two people die each day in Allegheny County from fentanyl. Yet the man accused of bringing $1.6 million of fentanyl into Pittsburgh in a suitcase got let out of jail and is missing.
KDKA-TV learned another judge is tied up in the mess.
Allegheny County sheriff's deputies are searching for. Detectives say they caught him with 450,000 doses of fentanyl in this suitcase.
He's already missed two court appearances and countless sources tell KDKA-TV they don't expect he'll turn up.
"He could go run back to the cartel who's wondering where their 10 kilos are or where the money is, or he's hiding someplace, but I truly believe he's dead," said former state Rep. Marty Schmotzer.
Schmotzer is one of a few people who have been silently protesting outside of Magistrate District Judge Xander Orenstein's office afterbut asked for electronic home monitoring.
The jail called the next day, asking the presiding Judge Gene Ricciardi about Cepeda's ankle monitoring condition. KDKA-TV learned Judge Ricciardi made the decision to remove the condition of his ankle monitor without reading Cepeda's criminal complaint.
Court administration said, "Judge Ricciardi removed the condition, but he did not know the facts of the case at that time. Mr. Cepeda was subsequently released."
"I don't want to hear about what other magistrates might have done or didn't do in this case or what other bureaucrats did or didn't do. The bottom line is [they] would not detain him," Schmotzer said.
Court administration said it's now reviewing procedures to provide safeguards to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"I'd like to know what procedures they're taking to prevent this from happening because unless you remove [them] from city court it's going to continue to happen because that's the philosophy Xander Orenstein has."
Orenstein is still on the bench and has denied our repeated requests for comment.
On Wednesday the district attorney's office highlighted one key issue in all of this: a suspect needs to have an address in Allegheny County to be eligible for electronic home monitoring. So Cepeda didn't qualify anyway.
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