Detroit police chief angry after accused drug smuggler posts $200 bond, disappears

Craig says Jose Lopez was obvious flight risk

DETROIT – Detroit police said an accused drug smuggler only had to pay $200 to go free after confessing to trying to bring cocaine and heroin to Detroit.

Now Jose Lopez has vanished, and Chief James Craig is unhappy.

Lopez is facing life in prison for the alleged smuggling of drugs into Detroit.

"The ball was clearly dropped, in my opinion," Craig said.

The chief said a visiting Wayne County magistrate should have set a higher bond at Lopez's weekend arraignment.

"A judge did not see this was a flight risk," Craig said.

The judge gave Lopez a $2,000 bond with 10 percent. Lopez paid $200 to get out of jail.

"We have a Mexican national who is here illegally," Craig said. "We give a low bond. Factually, he's probably going to leave the country."

Police believe that's what happened. Lopez never showed up for a court hearing in Detroit.

"One thousands grams of cocaine, 1,000 grams of heroin and we treat it as someone who went in and stole a Hershey's candy bar," Craig said.

Detroit police didn't have an investigator or officer in court the day of Lopez's arraignment, but Craig said the magistrate was given a report detailing the arrest.

"The magistrate made the decision to basically give this person a free pass out," Craig said.

Here is a statement from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy:

"Defendant Jose Antonio Lopez, a citizen of Mexico, was charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver over 1,000 grams of heroin and one count of possession with intent to deliver over 1,000 grams of cocaine. It is alleged that he had 4.6 kg of heroin and 2 kg of cocaine recovered from his car in Detroit. Both counts carry up to life imprisonment, and the potential for consecutive sentencing.

"At his Saturday, March 2, 2019, arraignment on the warrant, he was given a $2,000, 10 percent bond by visiting weekend Judge Vesta Svenson. All weekend warrants are handled via video through the 34th District Court in Romulus for all Wayne County Jurisdictions.

"The judge had everything she needed to make a decision about bond: The fact that he was a resident of another country, investigator’s report showing the nature and seriousness of the charges, his prior offenses in order to fashion an appropriate bond, and failed to do so. What amounts to a $200 bond is completely inappropriate and irresponsible in this case. Predictably, he failed to appear at his March 12 probable cause conference and is now a fugitive.

"For over a year a prosecutor is assigned Monday through Friday for arraignments in 36th District Court in Detroit to argue bond motions. We have never had the resources for a weekend arraignment prosecutor, but I will be asking for this in our next budget. However, in this case, a prosecutor was not needed because in this case the fact that a high bond was needed was a no-brainer."

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