SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco Mayor’s Office said law enforcement agencies made “significant” progress during the first three months of the city’s crackdown aimed at shutting down open-air drug markets.
San Francisco Police Department officers arrested 450 alleged drug users under public intoxication laws for openly consuming drugs and being under the influence in public.
In an operation aimed at dismantling drug trafficking networks, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, California Highway Patrol officers, and California National Guard members arrested 300 suspected narcotics dealers and 123 wanted fugitives. Officers also seized 103 kilos of narcotics, including 56 kilos of fentanyl.
Most of the arrests and seizures happened in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods.
Citywide in 2023, police seized over 135 kilos of narcotics, including over 89 kilos of fentanyl – more than all of 2022’s drug seizures combined, according to city data.
As a result of the crackdown, the District Attorney’s Office filed 566 felony narcotics cases. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said drugs dealers profit “from death and holding entire neighborhoods hostage.”
Every person who was detained under public intoxication laws was offered services for
treatment, but the vast majority of drug users declined to accept, city officials said.
Mayor London Breed wrote, “We want people to get help. City health and homelessness outreach teams will continue routine daily outreach to offer services and treatment linkages. But when people don’t accept help, we can’t continue to let them remain on the street causing harm to themselves and to others.”
Between January and July, 473 people died from drug overdoses in San Francisco, according to a report from the chief medical examiner.
“We refuse to sit on the sidelines as the fentanyl crisis intensifies,” said SFPD Police Chief Bill Scott. “The introduction of this poison into our drug supply has changed the game and we’re
responding. Anyone who seeks to profit from selling drugs in our city will be held accountable.”
“We are aggressively targeting drug dealers who prey on those suffering from substance use
disorder,” said Sheriff Paul Miyamoto. “We are also focusing on drug users because it is not
humane or compassionate to allow them to languish on our streets controlled by their addictions. Justice-involved persons with substance use disorder sometimes need the threat of jail time to compel them to remain in programs that successfully address the root causes of addiction.”
The mayor’s office said the crackdown is focused on addressing drug markets in three key areas: open drug sales, public drug use, and fencing of stolen goods in drug market areas.
Shutting down open air drug markets is critical to the safety of our neighborhoods and the
overall health of the city, Breed said. The mayor added, “We can’t continue to accept the existence of these drug markets on our streets. We will continue to offer help to people in crisis, but we must hold people accountable who are hurting our communities.”