SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Three people were facing federal charges Wednesday after investigators linked the fentanyl deaths of a father and 13-month-old in Santa Rosa to a $125 drug deal in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney David Anderson told reporters that Leanna Zamora, Lindsay Williams and Shane Cratty have been charged with distribution of fentanyl resulting in the fatal overdoses of 29-year-old Patrick O’Neill and his son Liam. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years of imprisonment.
“The work of the prosecutive and investigative team has traced the distribution of these drugs back three links in the chain from the father victim to Shane Cratty to Lindsay Williams to Leanna Zamora and then back from there to the Tenderloin neighborhood,” Anderson said.
He characterized the kind of dealing going on as an “open-air drug market.”
“I have grave concerns about an open air drug market in the wonderful city of San Francisco” – Federal Attorney announcing charges in a drug overdose death. pic.twitter.com/syKnyLTjMl
— Anne Makovec (@AnneKPIX) December 11, 2019
“The drugs in this case originated in here in the Tenderloin,” Anderson said. “I have grave concerns about the existence of an open-air drug market in a wonderful city like San Francisco. When we tolerate this open-air drug market in the heart of our city, the harms that it creates are not contained to the neighborhood where this drug market exists.”
On Wednesday night, the Santa Rosa Police Department seized a large amount of heroin as a result of the investigation into the Tenderloin drugs. They detained four people believed to be involved in a Sonoma County drug trafficking organization.
SRPD’s Narcotics Team served search warrants at three locations Wednesday at two Santa Rosa residences and one Rohnert Park residence. Teams also searched the suspects’ vehicles, where they recovered 11 pounds of heroin inside the trunk of one. One residence contained packaging materials for drug sales and cutting agents for heroin.
The seized heroin is suspected to be “Red Rock” heroin, known for being cut and mixed with fentanyl.
Police said the street value of the seized drugs was around $200,000. All four suspects–21-year-old Jesus Antonio Ochoa Dominguez, 25-year old Jose Antonio Gaspar Ramirez Barcenas, 26-year old Ivan Nogueda Rauda and 22-year old Rohnert Park resident Cesar Perez Solorio–were booked into Sonoma County Jail on charges of heroin sale with intent to distribute.
The U.S. Attorney wants San Francisco to get on board with federal law enforcement efforts in the neighborhood, saying lawlessness in San Francisco is leading to deadly consequences throughout the Bay Area.
“Open-air drug markets attract evil and export misery, despair and as this case demonstrates sometimes even death,” Anderson continued.
According to the complaint, the fentanyl that ultimately found its way to the victims’ house was obtained by Zamora in Tenderloin’s open-air drug market.
Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge William “Curt” Falli called the case “the most tragic we have seen.”
“This case involves fentanyl and a $125 drug transaction that led to the untimely deaths of a father and his 13-month old son,” Fallin said. “The circumstances surrounding this investigation are arguably the most tragic we have seen.”
According to the complaint, Cratty drove Williams to meet with Zamora. Zamora sold the fentanyl to Williams, and Williams gave it to Cratty. Cratty then delivered it to the baby’s father.
On Sept. 14th, the toddler’s mother discovered O’Neill and the her child unresponsive when she came to check on them at a western Santa Rosa house after O’Neill failed to drop off Liam with her sister.
When officers arrived at the house in the 200 block of Darek Drive, they found O’Neill and the baby lying next to each other on the floor of a back bedroom. Despite lifesaving efforts by medical personnel, the baby was pronounced dead at the scene.
O’Neill died two days later in a Santa Rosa hospital without regaining consciousness. Police said they found items in the home “consistent with narcotic use.”
Santa Rosa police had arrested Williams and Zamora on Sept. 18 on local charges related to the deaths.
In an affidavit released supporting Wednesday’s charges, DEA Special Agent Evan Ferguson detailed the deaths and how the father obtained the drugs. He said investigators found “two scraps of aluminum foil, a straw, a lighter, and a chunk of a white substance.”
The arrests were part of a federal initiative in the tenderloin, which the feds called “FIT.”
The FIT initiative has netted 100 arrests since august. The feds are urging the city to help out by coordinating with federal law enforcement and cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security, despite the city and the state’s sanctuary status.
Anderson also wants the city rejoin the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, which the city left in 2017. That is something the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and SF police commission would need to approve.