SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – A major East Bay drug bust seized 17 pounds of illegal narcotics, including 12.5 pounds of fentanyl, three firearms, and two high-capacity magazines.

The joint investigation between San Francisco police and federal authorities, like the DEA, resulted in charges to 18 suspected drug traffickers accused of fueling a large distribution network in the Tenderloin.

This is a huge bust considering the damage that could’ve been done from those drugs.

With an estimated minimum lethal dose of just 2-milligrams, the 12.5 pounds of fentanyl alone is enough to theoretically kill more than 2.5 million people. 

Narcotics investigators say the drugs came from Southern California drug trafficking organizations who were bulk sourcing fentanyl and other narcotics to mid-level traffickers based largely in the East Bay and in Oakland. 

They say those traffickers then supplied street-level dealers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, pumping substantial amounts of fentanyl into the neighborhood.

“It’s the largest open-air drug market in the United States. The Tenderloin at any given time on 8-10 different street corners you have anywhere from 8-15 dealers selling, all selling the same product, selling illicit fentanyl, usually in a powder form. Sometimes they’re in a pill form. They look like oxycodone. They’re also selling methamphetamine, crack cocaine, and powdered cocaine as well,” Tom Wolf said.

The former addict and now recovery advocate, Tom Wolf, know the opioid and drug epidemic all too well, especially here in San Francisco. 

He was once homeless on these streets, addicted to fentanyl and heroin but got clean three years ago. 

With this large East Bay drug bust and now 10 suspected drug traffickers facing charges in addition to 8 who have already been charged, Wolf says many lives have been saved.

“What’s good about this is two things. These particular distributors they busted were selling what they call color-coded fentanyl so it was fentanyl coming in different colors, green, red, pink, as a way to denote who it was coming from and sometimes a way to denote the strength of the actual product and that’s a practice that’s been widely circulating the tenderloin but more importantly, that’s 12.5 pounds of fentanyl that’s not going to reach the streets and not going to contribute to more overdose deaths in the city and that’s a necessary step we have to take is part of our overall response to the drug crisis out there,” Wolf said.

SFPD says 12.5 pounds or 5.7 kilograms of fentanyl is enough to theoretically kill 2.85 million people with just a small dosage of about 2 milligrams considered a lethal dose.

Records from San Francisco’s medical examiner’s office show more than 700 people have died of overdoses in 2020. 

A preliminary report shows more than 500 people have died through the end of September so far this year.

“The city needs to do two things. They need to do a lot more to reduce demand for the drug, as well as doing what they can to curtail the supply,” Wolf said.

This drug bust was a result of a years-long investigation.

The charges specifically related to the fentanyl seizure were made in two complaints, both filed last week and unsealed just hours ago.

One of the complaints describes a conspiracy allegedly run by two brothers, one in Alameda and the other in Berkeley, while the second complaint is centered around a second organization allegedly headed by a man in Oakland.