U.S. Attorney And Federal Law Enforcement Officials Announce Extradition Of Honduran Nationals In Fight Against Fentanyl Trafficking In The Tenderloin District Of San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, Drug Enforcement Agency, Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce Balzano, and San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr announced that 19 people have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of drug trafficking near schools and playgrounds in San Francisco. The indictments and arrests resulted from a continued partnership between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA, and the San Francisco Police Department in a program called Operation Safe Schools.
This iteration of Operation Safe Schools focused on the Tenderloin neighborhood and portions of the South of Market neighborhood, two areas notorious for drug dealing in San Francisco. In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag stressed the significance of protecting school zones. “The goal of Operation Safe Schools is to use the law enforcement tools available to us to make neighborhoods like the Tenderloin safe, and to ensure that children who live and go to school in these neighborhoods are not exposed to crime and drug dealing,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “We intend to continue with this initiative and others like it until the children in our community are no longer exposed to these dangerous situations.”
According to Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce Balzano, the DEA will continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to protect children and schools from drug trafficking. “These partnerships are important because they allow us to better protect our communities. The Safe Schools program delivers an important message to drug dealers who do business in the Northern District of California: We will not tolerate drug trafficking in school zones or anywhere else,” said Acting SAC Balzano.
"I wish to thank the US Attorney's Office and DEA for their continued partnership with the San Francisco Police Department and their commitment to Operation Safe Schools,” said San Francisco Police Chief Suhr. “Together, we are making a difference in the lives of all residents in the Tenderloin area by preventing drug dealers from preying on young children near the schools they attend on a daily basis. Every child deserves an education and should not ever have to navigate drug dealers to get to school."
Over the past nine days, the following defendants have been arrested and brought before U.S. Magistrate Judges to answer charges:
According to the charging documents, the defendants are each charged with the distribution of prohibited drugs on or within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 860. The defendants are charged with distributing various controlled substances, including “crack” cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and oxycodone, as specified in the individual indictments.
The maximum statutory penalty for violating the drug-free school zone statute is 40 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail, at least six years and up to life on supervised release, and a maximum fine of up to $2,000,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Sarah Hawkins and Lloyd Farnham are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting these cases. The prosecutions are the result of multiple investigations by the San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco Field Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations and, as in all cases, the defendants listed above must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.