Skip to main content

San Francisco supervisor asks for state, federal help in fentanyl crisis

Supervisor Aaron Peskin attends a Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall on June 4, 2019. | Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin has called for a regional task force including federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target what he describes as a “fentanyl dealing and human trafficking crisis in San Francisco.”

Peskin issued the appeal in a press release April 13. He has sent letters to House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as regional agencies such as the BART Board of Directors and the University of California Board of Regents, urging them to work with the San Francisco Police Department. 

“UC Police can help us keep the area around UC College of the Law in the Tenderloin free from drug dealing. The DEA can respond to the Mayor’s request for help. Rec and Park Rangers can have a visible presence in UN and Civic Center Plazas, BART police can help protect the public at their stations, and the California Highway Patrol can step up their presence here in San Francisco,” Peskin said in the release. 

Peskin made the appeal after asking Mayor London Breed to reschedule her policy discussions appearance before the Board of Supervisors meant for April 11 to a future meeting to be held at United Nations Plaza, considered to be the epicenter of the city’s fentanyl scourge. 

Peskin’s characterization of the current drug abuse and overdose epidemic as a “fentanyl dealing and human trafficking crisis” appears to reflect the significant number of street dealers who are undocumented immigrants from Honduras and who public defenders say are working under duress.

That has been a major pain point in prosecuting drug dealers, as concerns over deportations led the previous District Attorney Chesa Boudin to work toward convicting street dealers on lesser charges

A spokesperson for Mayor London Breed’s office “welcomed the participation” of the Board of Supervisors in ongoing strategies to combat the fentanyl epidemic. Breed’s office characterized many policies called for by Peskin as similar to those already being undertaken, such as deployment of Park Rangers to United Nations Plaza.  

In a recent Medium post, Breed detailed a number of strategies intended to disrupt the Tenderloin drug trade, including increased police and health interventions. 

On March 27, Breed sent a letter to newly appointed U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey requesting support from the Department of Justice in light of the city’s police staffing shortage and the “sheer volume of drug dealing on our streets.”

Breed has also met with Speaker Emerita Pelosi, who recently announced that she would be addressing the city’s fentanyl problem. 

Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.