A lethal dose of fentanyl is displayed next to a penny for scale. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via Bay City News)

LOCAL AND STATE LAW enforcement agencies have seized over 100 kilograms of narcotics in San Francisco’s Tenderloin and South of Market districts over the last three months, including more than 56 kilograms of fentanyl, as part of the city’s efforts to shut down open-air drug markets.

San Francisco law enforcement agencies have been working since May 30 with state and federal partners to focus on drug enforcement in the Tenderloin and SoMa areas, the city said in a news release on Sept. 1.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) photo of fentanyl. (DEA via Bay City News)

This has resulted in hundreds of arrests under drug laws and for outstanding warrants, as well as the seizure of 103 kilograms of narcotics, including 56 kilograms of fentanyl. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office has also seen an uptick in felony narcotics cases, the city said.

“Shutting down open air drug markets is critical to the safety of our neighborhoods and the overall health of our city,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “We will continue to offer help to people in crisis, but we must hold people accountable who are hurting our communities.”

So far in 2023, San Francisco police have seized over 64 kilograms of narcotics, including nearly 38 kilograms of fentanyl, just from the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods. Citywide, officers have seized over 135 kilograms of narcotics, including over 89 kilograms of fentanyl, more than all of last year’s drug seizures combined.

More than 300 dealers have been arrested in the last three months. Officers have also arrested 123 wanted fugitives in the Tenderloin and South of Market during the same time period, the city said.

In addition, the California Highway Patrol has made 100 drug arrests in the city, seizing 39 kilograms of narcotics, including 18 kilograms of fentanyl. 

“We will continue to offer help to people in crisis, but we must hold people accountable who are hurting our communities.”

Mayor London Breed

“We are also taking bold steps to get people who are addicted to fentanyl the help that they need. The people who live, work and visit San Francisco deserve to be safe as they enjoy this beautiful city,” said SFPD Chief Bill Scott in a statement.

San Francisco has also been included in Operation Overdrive, a federal initiative under the Department of Justice that deploys federal law enforcement resources to help local and state authorities identify and dismantle criminal drug networks. 

As a result of this operation, the District Attorney’s Office has seen a record number of felony narcotics cases presented and filed year to date since 2018. Through Aug. 23 of this year, 656 felony narcotics cases were presented, of which 566 were filed — a 86-percent filing rate — compared to the previous record of 574 cases presented in 2018 and 476 cases filed.  

“I am grateful to all local, state and federal partners who have come together to share resources and work collaboratively to close open-air drug markets and take our neighborhoods back,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement.

Police have made over 450 arrests under public intoxication laws for public drug use. Individuals who are detained under public intoxication laws are offered services for treatment that they access upon release. 

“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,” Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said in a statement on Sept. 1.