San Francisco, CA

Record-Breaking Seizures: San Francisco's Public Safety Initiative Strikes a Blow to Fentanyl Trade

By Logic

Mayor London Breed recently announced significant progress in San Francisco's comprehensive initiative to combat open-air drug markets. This initiative involves collaboration among local, state, and federal public safety partners to enhance coordination and enforcement, aiming to disrupt illegal activities effectively.

A specific focus of the initiative has been the Tenderloin and South of Market areas, where the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has seized an unprecedented amount of fentanyl. To date this year, over 60 kilograms of fentanyl, equivalent to more than 30 million lethal doses, have been confiscated. This marks a remarkable 160% increase compared to the same period last year and a staggering 640% increase compared to 2021.

Furthermore, through enhanced enforcement efforts, 28% of individuals cited for public drug use have been found to have existing warrants for other crimes, leading to their subsequent charges under these warrants. Surprisingly, only 8% of those cited for public drug use were identified as San Francisco residents, indicating a larger influx of non-residents engaging in illegal drug activities.

The initiative focuses on three primary areas: curtailing open drug sales, addressing public drug use, and targeting the fencing of stolen goods within drug market areas.

Mayor Breed emphasized the importance of shutting down open-air drug markets to ensure the safety of neighborhoods and the overall well-being of the city. To achieve this, the initiative requires sustained and expanded efforts from city agencies, state partners, and federal collaborators. While providing assistance to individuals in crisis remains a priority, it is equally crucial to hold accountable those who continue to harm communities by refusing help and engaging in drug dealing or public drug use.

To ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response to the fentanyl crisis, the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) has been leading a citywide initiative since April. Starting from June 12, the initiative expanded its scope to include more city agencies, as well as regional and state partners. The involvement of various agencies, such as the SFPD, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office (SFSO), the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the Adult Probation Department, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and the California National Guard, allows for effective enforcement and outreach efforts. Additionally, agencies providing outreach and services, including the Department of Public Health (DPH), Human Services Agency (HSA), and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH), play a vital role in addressing the crisis.

Regarding open drug sales, SFPD has concentrated its enforcement activities in the Tenderloin and South of Market areas in the first half of 2023. The outcomes of these efforts in these areas alone include 390 arrests for sale, seizure of 61 kilograms of fentanyl, and confiscation of 95 kilograms of other narcotics. These statistics do not account for arrests and seizures in other parts of San Francisco. Through continued coordination among city, state, and federal agencies, a joint effort will be made to identify and apprehend drug dealers and traffickers, disrupt the drug supply chain, and reduce the profitability of these criminal operations.

Recent developments have reinforced the comprehensive approach against the fentanyl crisis. The California Highway Patrol announced the seizure of 4 kilograms of fentanyl since May 1, aligning with the state's commitment to allocate resources to support San Francisco's efforts against open-air drug markets. Moreover, San Francisco has been included in Operation Overdrive, a federal initiative led by the Department of Justice, which aims to deploy federal law enforcement resources to assist local and state authorities in identifying and dismantling criminal drug networks. This support from both the state and federal levels underscores the seriousness of the situation and the commitment to combatting the fentanyl crisis.

To address public drug use, the SFPD and SFSO have implemented a coordinated

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