SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco is suing 28 alleged drug dealers, filing for civil injunctions blocking them from coming into the Tenderloin neighborhood.
The City Attorney's Office on Thursday filed separate lawsuits against each of the defendants claiming that they don't live in the area but instead travel from all around the Bay Area to distribute drugs in the Tenderloin.
Officials said the defendants are known drug dealers, but did not provide documentation on their alleged criminal history.
The suits seek to help eliminate the open-air drug dealing that goes on in the Tenderloin, considered the epicenter of the city's opioid crisis, officials said.
“These actions are aimed solely at criminals who are coming from around the Bay Area to prey on the people of the Tenderloin. It’s time for that to stop,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “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.”
City officials said that in 2019, San Francisco saw a 70% spike in overdose deaths. That year 441 people died, an average of more than one a day. They said 239 of those were from fentanyl overdoses, more than double the number of fentanyl deaths in 2018.
The City Attorney's Office said the Tenderloin has the highest overdose mortality rate of any neighborhood in the City. So far, 81 people have died of drug overdoses in the Tenderloin alone.
San Francisco wants the court to ban the defendants from entering a roughly 50 square block area of the Tenderloin and part of the adjacent South of Market neighborhood.
If the defendants violate the order, the city wants the court to impose civil and criminal consequences. The offenders could possibly be arrested and hit with a misdemeanor.
Herrera said, "Our goal here is to keep these dealers and the drugs they carry out of the Tenderloin. The kids, the parents, the seniors, the workers, the business owners of this neighborhood have suffered too much at the hands of these dealers. Enough is enough.”