Feds cracking down on San Francisco fentanyl dealers

Federal officials joined San Francisco police and city leaders Thursday in sending the message to fentanyl dealers: it's a federal crime that will lead to federal time.

"The Tenderloin has become ground zero for drug tourism. That is unacceptable," said Brian Clark, special agent in charge of the DEA in San Francisco.

"This is something new. This is something different and this is something that is being built to last," said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott.

U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey, flanked by a host of local and federal officials, said the new initiative is dubbed, "All Hands on Deck."

"This program will target and remove individuals who peddle fentanyl in our neighborhoods," Ramsey said. "We are putting these cases on a fast track. Rather than taking months or years to resolve these cases, the average time from federal arrest to sentence on these felony fast track cases is less than a month."

At a news conference at the San Francisco Federal Building, officials condemned the scourge that is the illegal fentanyl trade. 

For too long, officials say drug traffickers in the Tenderloin have been through a revolving door in local courts after being busted by San Francisco police. Now, more and more dealers have been charged in federal court with selling fentanyl, cocaine, meth and heroin.


"Today ought to make it loud and clear based on the data, based on the collaboration of these agencies, that we aren’t going anywhere," said Mayor London Breed. "San Francisco is no longer the place where anything goes."

KTVU has noticed an increase in federal drug prosecutions over the past year - as well as a sharp spike in the past several months. Recent tweets by KTVU crime reporter Henry Lee have highlighted arrests and featured pictures of drugs seized by SFPD officers as well as agents with the DEA and the FBI.

"This, San Francisco is your progress," said District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, motioning to her law enforcement counterparts. "No one in San Francisco can remember a time when all of us were in this together."

The feds have also been going after individuals accused of helping funnel drug proceeds.

Yessenia Barrientos-Lainez has been charged with helping to launder drug money while working as a teller at a money services business, sending large sums of money to Mexico.

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and www.facebook.com/henrykleefan