San Francisco police sergeant under fire for arresting Latino drug dealing suspects

Sgt. Daniel Solorzano said he's spent 12 of his 14 years with the San Francisco Police Department working in the Tenderloin.

On Thursday, KTVU got the chance to see the work he's doing on the streets.

It was a closeup look at San Francisco's war on drugs in action in the Tenderloin.

Solorzano was in plainclothes working what's called a "buy and bust."  

He's part of the team arresting a suspected drug dealer.

He said he loves his work, but he is now facing possible discipline, including being fired. He isn't allowed to speak about the case.

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Defense attorneys representing Latino drug dealing suspects said Solorzano, who is of Mexican and Nicaraguan descent, targeted their clients because of their race.

Defense attorneys are reportedly looking at whether Solorzano violated the Racial Justice Act.

It prohibits criminal conviction of a person based on race or ethnicity.

They are looking for records including police reports to investigate a possible pattern of bias.

Defense attorneys are looking at whether the dozens of people Solorzano arrested in the Tenderloin in a 2-year span were all were Latino.

And dozens of others who were detained and not arrested were not Latino.

"It's a legitimate issue to bring up, but there are other explanations other than police officers enforcing the law in a racially biased way," said  Anthony Brass, a former federal prosecutor who's represented drug dealers as a criminal defense attorney.

He said the people detained but not arrested are likely those buying and using drugs, and that drug sales in any given area are often controlled by one ethnic group 

"You're rarely going to get multi-ethnic groups cooperating and controlling drug dealing turf," said Brass.  

"I'm always calling about the drug dealers," said Rene Colorado, executive director of Tenderloin Merchants Association.

He lives and works in the Tenderloin.

He said it's not biased policing just because all those arrested are Latinos.

"99.9 percent of the drug dealers in the Tenderloin are Hispanic. The majority are immigrants from Honduras," said Colorado. "Residents want police to be more aggressive in the Tenderloin."  

Solorzano said he's confident that he did nothing wrong. 

He said: "I'm not targeting people. I'm targeting areas."

He also has support from the union. 

"Like a lot of officers, he's damn good at what he does and I'm proud to support him," said Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officer's Association.  

Police Chief Bill Scott said the crackdown on drug dealers is in response to community concerns and that he supports his officers in making arrests according to the law.    

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU