SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced Thursday that his office is trying to stopping drug dealers in the Tenderloin by suing them.
After a short online press conference Thursday morning, Herrera’s office released a statement that he sued 28 people believed to be drug dealers. The suits serve as restraining orders against the alleged dealers, who can be fined or even arrested for entering the Tenderloin if Herrera succeeds in California Superior Court.
“We know who these predators are, and we will not allow them to victimize Tenderloin residents with impunity. Dealers take note: If you come to the Tenderloin, you will be arrested and your drugs will be confiscated,” Herrera said in a statement.
“I want to be clear that this is not a silver bullet,” the city attorney went on to say. “More needs to be done, including more drug treatment options, expanded mental health help, and a concerted focus on major narcotics suppliers.”
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The announcement comes as the city sees a massive 70% increase in fatal drug overdoses from 2018-2019. This year, the city has already seen 81 fatal drug overdoses. Officials from San Francisco’s Department of Public Health blame the powerful opioid Fentanyl for the crisis — of the 441 drug overdoses recorded last year, 239 were Fentanyl-related.
Herrera claimed that almost all of those targeted in his lawsuits do not live in the city but come from all over the Bay Area to sell “hard drugs like cocaine, fentanyl and heroin to San Francisco residents.”
“The kids, parents, seniors, workers and business owners of this neighborhood have suffered too much at the hands of these dealers. Enough is enough,” Herrera tweeted.
Each of the 28 lawsuits provides “ample evidence” of repeated drug dealing in the Tenderloin, Herrera said. The lawsuits ban the defendants from a 50-square-block area in San Francisco and carry fines up to $6,000 for each violation. Violations can also be pursued as misdemeanors and subject defendants to immediate arrest.
According to Herrera’s office, from June 2019 to June 2020, police made over 580 arrests in the Tenderloin area for drug sales and possession.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed voiced her support for Herrera’s tactics.
“The open-air drug dealing we see on the streets of the Tenderloin is simply unacceptable,” Breed said. “This neighborhood deserves better, and our City needs to do better.”