San Francisco police, sheriff’s personnel, and members of California Highway Patrol have arrested 300 suspected narcotics dealers and 123 wanted fugitives as part of a crackdown on open-air drug markets in the city. Around 103 kilos of narcotics have been seized, including 56 kilos of fentanyl. The District Attorney’s Office has filed 566 felony narcotics charges. According to Mayor London Breed’s Office, another 450 users have been cited for public drug consumption.
“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,” said Mayor Breed.
“We are aggressively targeting drug dealers who prey on those suffering from substance use disorder,” added 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.”
But District Attorney Brooke Jenkins expressed frustration with what happens after her office files criminal charges.
“Unfortunately, they’re cycling back out onto the street almost immediately after the arrest in our case is filed to date,” she told CNN. Jenkins is blaming Superior Court judges for undoing the work of her office.
Leaders' frustration with the legal system is growing. Mayor Breed has been fighting an injunction that prevents San Francisco from conducting homeless sweeps. Joining her is Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has blamed the courts for the explosion of encaments across San Francisco.
The human toll of San Francisco’s drug crisis is enormous. 2023 is on track to be the worst year for fatal overdoses, even exceeding the first year of the pandemic when 725 users lost their lives. The situation continues to take an economic toll as well. Salesforce CEO and co-founder Marc Benioff is considering moving the company’s annual conference out of San Francisco due to safety concerns. The conference contributes an estimated $57 million to San Francisco’s economy.