SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — A drug pipeline into San Francisco’s crime-ridden Tenderloin District, fueled by Honduran nationals who lived in the East Bay, has been busted up by federal agents who have arrested 32 suspects, authorities announced Wednesday.
Chris Nielsen, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Francisco, told reporters that an investigation was launched in late 2017 in cooperation with San Francisco and Richmond police and uncovered two independent drug operations stretching from Mexico to Seattle.
The drugs hitting the streets according to the DEA were methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.
“These are small quantities of drugs, but lots and lots and lots of small quantities of drugs,” Nielsen said. The bindles fed drug habits in the Tenderloin and beyond. DEA agents intercepted 1.5 kilos of cocaine and 2.5 kilos of heroin headed for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
Of the drugs coming in from Mexico, Nielsen said, “It’s not clear yet which cartel is involved down there in Culiacan, Mexico, but drugs would come into Southern California, Los Angeles into the Bay Area–they would either go to the Tenderloin or sometimes the drugs would go up to the Pacific Northwest.”
In the Bay Area, the mostly Honduran nationals lived in the East Bay and commuted daily into San Francisco’s Tenderloin District to sell drugs.
The “commuter drug dealers” acted like “independent contractors,” Nielsen said, traveling on BART or in carpools to peddle the drugs that were shipped into the Bay Area from Mexico and Honduras.
“These commuter drug dealers every morning would unload the drugs in the East Bay, package it up–take BART or commute across the bridge into the Tenderloin to sell you drugs during the day and come back into the East Bay at night with profits,” Nielsen told KPIX 5.
The alleged leaders of the two organizations were Andy Reanos-Moreno and Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos, according to federal criminal complaints filed on Aug. 1 and July 29 and made public Wednesday.
Nielsen said the two cases were the first time in his law enforcement experience that he had seen the model of the leaders of a drug ring renting housing to the drug sellers.
The residences included apartments and houses in Oakland, Hayward and elsewhere and as many as five dealers, sometimes with partners and children, lived in each unit, according to the complaints.
Nielsen said he could not say whether organizations using a similar model will take the place of the two groups now arrested.
“We will follow our investigation wherever it takes us,” he said.
KPIX 5’s Andria Borba contributed to this report.