Prosecutors are taking aggressive action to hold egregious drug dealers accountable, pursuing detention and seeking to admonish defendants of the extreme lethality of fentanyl and that deaths resulting from the sale of fentanyl and other narcotics may result in murder charges
San Francisco, CA –Today, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced that her office has sought pre-trial detention for alleged fentanyl dealers who pose extreme public safety threats. After conducting an individualized assessment, the District Attorney’s Office filed motions for pre-trial detention in seven cases where release would jeopardize public safety. The District Attorney’s Office is also seeking to admonish defendants arraigned for felony narcotics activity involving fentanyl, advising that if a death is attributed to their alleged sale, the defendant may later be charged with murder. Moving to hold drug dealers accountable for murder is in lockstep with other prosecutors throughout the state who are stepping up to protect their communities.
“The lethality of fentanyl presents new and unprecedented risks to our community, and we must do everything in our power to hold drug dealers accountable to help save lives,” said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “I am committed to seeking relief for communities ravaged by open air drug markets and holding repeat offenders accountable. Where our individualized review reveals an extreme public safety threat to San Franciscans, I have authorized my office to use every legal means to seek detention. We are hopeful our partners at the courts will respond favorably to our arguments as they acknowledge the level of death and misery on our streets is unacceptable. We have to send a strong message in the community and in the courtroom that we will not stand by and allow dealers to kill innocent people and those suffering from addiction.”
The District Attorney’s Office is seeking detention in cases where defendants pose clear threats to public safety given the lethality of the vast quantities of fentanyl they are accused of possessing, the repeated possession for sale of suspected narcotics, or being armed while possessing fentanyl for sale purposes. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, two milligrams of fentanyl may be lethal. Prosecutors are arguing in these cases that no less restrictive form of release can adequately protect the public in light of the ongoing overdose crisis has killed hundreds of San Franciscans since the beginning of the pandemic. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports that 391 lives have been lost this year alone due to accidental drug overdoses with 70% attributed to fentanyl. These public safety arguments are in marked contrast with the previous administration that did not earn a single felony conviction for fentanyl dealers in all of 2021. The District Attorney’s policy shift is imperative to saving lives and restoring public safety and accountability.
Since taking office and announcing the new drug policies to hold alleged dealers accountable in August, the District Attorney’s Office has filed felony narcotics-related charges against 171 individuals, seven of which included a motion to detain. Two detention motions were temporarily granted but ultimately denied by the court. In one of those cases, the defendant had multiple pending felony narcotics cases in San Francisco with increasing amounts of suspected fentanyl and another similar case in a nearby Bay Area county. Money bail was set in both of these cases, despite prosecutors’ arguments that money bail cannot protect public safety because it is not forfeited if a defendant commits a new offense while out of custody. In another case where a detention motion was inexplicably denied, an individual was arrested with one pound of suspected fentanyl and other narcotics. One pound of fentanyl could kill 226,796 people in San Francisco, about a quarter of the population.
San Francisco Chronicle reporting on the impact of the opiate and fentanyl crisis on our streets has shown that approximately 40% of overdose deaths in 2020 and 2021 happened in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, with many outside, on our streets and sidewalks. Reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle also shows that San Francisco has the highest death rate from fentanyl overdoes in California and nationally is second to Harris County, Texas (population 4.86 million people) for overdose deaths and second to Philadelphia (population 1.58 million people) in fentanyl related deaths.
Detention Motions Filed in Court Numbers: 22009156, 22009347, 22009473, 22009486, 22009575, 22010219, 22010465