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Press Release

Oakland Resident Charged In Scheme To Distribute Drugs In The Tenderloin District Of San Francisco

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California
Federal Criminal Complaint Describes Five Transactions To Undercover Agent Totaling More Than 50 Grams Each of Fentanyl and Methamphetamine

SAN FRANCISCO – The Office of the United States Attorney filed a federal criminal complaint charging Elio Hernandez-Zuniga with distributing methamphetamine and fentanyl in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, announced U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Wade R. Shannon.  Zuniga was arrested Thursday, August 4, 2022, and appeared August 10, 2022, at a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim, who remanded him into federal custody pending further proceedings.  

According to the criminal complaint, on May 26, 2022, Hernandez-Zuniga, 25, of Oakland, was riding back and forth on a scooter in the Tenderloin district when an undercover law enforcement officer approached Zuniga and offered to purchase $100 worth of methamphetamine.  Zuniga agreed to the transaction, exchanged telephone numbers with the undercover officer, and gestured to a colleague to come where the transaction was occurring.  The complaint alleges that Zuniga conversed in Spanish with the associate, received something from him, and eventually provided the undercover officer with 10 small packages of suspected methamphetamine. 

In additional filings in the case, the government alleges that Hernandez-Zuniga commuted directly from Oakland to San Francisco and back approximately six days a week between around 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to sell drugs.  The complaint describes an additional four transactions that are alleged to have occurred during June and July of 2022.  The first transaction, on June 7, 2022, allegedly occurred after an undercover officer contacted Hernandez-Zuniga by text message and offered to purchase $100 worth of methamphetamine and $100 worth of fentanyl.  Hernandez-Zuniga agreed and arranged to meet in the Tenderloin. The officer and Hernandez-Zuniga met, but Hernandez-Zuniga provided $200 worth of suspected methamphetamine, but no fentanyl.  An additional transaction occurred the next day when Hernandez-Zuniga agreed to, and actually did, provide the undercover officer with $100 worth of suspected fentanyl.   

The next transaction allegedly occurred July 7, 2022.  On that day, the undercover officer drove an unmarked police vehicle and parked at the corner of Post and Larkin Streets in the Tenderloin.  Hernandez-Zuniga allegedly parked his scooter nearby, entered the unmarked car, and negotiated the sale of two bags of suspected fentanyl, weighing in total over 50 grams.  Similarly, the complaint describes a transaction that allegedly occurred July 27, 2022, after which the undercover officer again drove an unmarked police vehicle and parked at the corner of Post and Larkin Streets.  Again, Hernandez-Zuniga entered the car and this time negotiated the sale of over 57 gross grams of suspected methamphetamine for $800. 

In connection with his August 4, 2022, arrest, law enforcement officers found 162.2 grams of suspected fentanyl, 180 grams of suspected methamphetamine, 120.7 grams of suspected cocaine base, and 35.3 grams of suspected heroin in Zuniga’s possession.  In addition, officers found packaging materials, multiple digital scales, and over $2,000 in cash.     

The criminal complaint charges Hernandez-Zuniga with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 40 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(vi), and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C).  For the fentanyl distribution charge, Hernandez-Zuniga faces a mandatory minimum five years in prison as well as a maximum 40 years of imprisonment and $5,000,000 fine.  For the methamphetamine distribution charge, Hernandez-Zuniga faces a maximum 20 years of imprisonment and $1,000,000 fine.  However, any sentence after conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Hernandez-Zuniga is next scheduled to appear on August 31, 2022, before Judge Kim, for a further detention hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Yeh is prosecuting this case with assistance from Mimi Lam and Alycee Lane.

This case is the result of an investigation by the DEA with assistance from the San Francisco Police Department. 
 

Updated August 11, 2022