Man allegedly caught with enough fentanyl to kill 35% of Pennsylvanians released from jail

PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates after a major drug bust at the Downtown Pittsburgh Greyhound station.

Agents with the Attorney General’s Office uncovered nearly $2 million worth of deadly drugs.

In total, 450,000 doses of potentially deadly fentanyl, more doses than the number of people who live in the city of Pittsburgh, were recovered. Investigators say all of it was found on one 27-year-old man from New York who brought it right through the bus station.

11 Investigates has learned that even though the arrest was announced just hours ago, the suspect hasn’t been in jail for days and paid no bond.

Yan Carlos Pichardo Cepeda was arrested at the bus station on Aug. 31. Agents say he tried to avoid a drug-sniffing dog by hiding in the bathroom, dousing himself in cologne and pretending to buy a ticket. He was eventually searched, agents say the drugs were found and he was arrested.

He was released the next day.

According to court documents, Pichardo Cepeda was released on “nonmonetary bail” “Per Judge Orenstein at request of ACJ.”

County officials told 11 Investigates the jail has nothing to do with the decision to release an inmate.

The County and Attorney General’s Office both directed us to Magistrate Xander Orenstein’s Office. We left a message there Thursday afternoon and have not heard back.

Allegheny County D.A. Stephen Zappala was quoted in the initial news release announcing the arrest saying “The drugs like these, being taken off the streets in Pittsburgh, are responsible for two deaths a day in Allegheny County.”

So, 11 Investigates asked the DA’s office if they knew why the suspect was let out with no bond. The office responded “To my knowledge our office was not consulted in this matter. We cannot comment until we obtain additional information but are concerned.”

To put this in perspective of how big a bust this was, according to the DEA, two milligrams of fentanyl is all it takes to kill someone.

Cepeda was accused of having more than nine kilograms of fentanyl. That works out to be enough fentanyl to potentially kill nearly 35% of the population of Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office sent the following updated statement to Channel 11 Thursday afternoon.

“The District Attorney’s Office was not notified of the decision by MDJ Xander Orenstein to release this individual on non-monetary bond. To remind the public, Yaan Carlos Pichardo Cepeda, although presumed innocent, is accused of trafficking an extremely large quantity of drugs which are responsible for the deaths of almost 2 people per day in Allegheny County. The MDJ has the sole discretion to set the amount of bail at the preliminary arraignment. Our office was not consulted and MDJ Orenstein’s decision was not communicated to our office. Questions regarding why MDJ Orenstein made this decision should be directed to his office. Now that we are aware of this, in our opinion, very dangerous decision, we are taking steps to have it reviewed by a higher court and reversed.”

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