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San Francisco Receives New Federal Help to Combat Fentanyl Crisis

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SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has included San Francisco in the upcoming phase of “Operation Overdrive” per a designation request by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, according to an announcement from Pelosi’s office on June 16.

This means new federal resources will be unlocked in the coming months to combat the city’s fentanyl trafficking epidemic.

Pelosi sent a letter to the DOJ on April 27 urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to designate the city for Operation Overdrive status.

Led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the DOJ initiative Operation Overdrive is a data-driven, intelligence-led approach to identify and dismantle criminal drug networks operating in areas with the highest rates of violence and drug poisoning deaths across the country.

Pelosi said in a statement, “Operation Overdrive will help our City address this tragedy by targeting the criminals who are doing the most harm, removing deadly fentanyl from our streets and reducing related violence.”

Now San Francisco has additional tools to fight the notorious open-air drug market in the Tenderloin District.

California Governor Gavin Newsom deployed California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers to Tenderloin starting May 1. For the CHP to do that, Newsom had to change CHP jurisdictional protocols accordingly.

The CHP has seized over 4.2 kilos of fentanyl in six weeks in the Tenderloin and the surrounding area of San Francisco. That amount is enough to potentially kill 2.1 million people, the governor’s office announced on June 15.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a lethal dose of fentanyl is 2 mg.

Additionally, the CHP seized over 957 grams of methamphetamine, 319 grams of cocaine, and 31 grams of heroin. It also made 92 arrests.

Following requests from Newsom, the California National Guard (CalGuard) also increased its support to the San Francisco Fentanyl Task Force with six analysts, in addition to the fourteen analysts assigned to the NorCal High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) task force.

These analysts from CalGuard are mapping crime syndicate networks by reviewing significant amounts of law enforcement information. The efforts can assist local agencies in building large-scale cases.

DEA had enforcement operations in 57 Operation Overdrive locations, according to Assistant Attorney General Carlos Felipe Uriarte.

“In each of the locations designated for Operation Overdrive, DEA works with local and state law enforcement officials to conduct threat assessments identifying the criminal networks and individuals that are causing the most harm,” Uriarte wrote in a letter to Pelosi.

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