Four of the five defendants are accused in indictments unsealed today of selling the drug within 1,000 feet of a public housing project.
Authorities said the alleged sales were at or near three different projects in the Bernal Heights, Western Addition and Hayes Valley neighborhoods of the city.
At the request of prosecutors, U.S. Magistrate Edward Chen ordered all five defendants held in custody until detention hearings on Friday and Tuesday. The charges against them carry mandatory minimum sentences of five or 10 years each.
Two defendants who already have a lawyer pleaded not guilty to the charges. They are Yusef Sterling, 36, accused of conspiracy and the sale of more than 50 grams of crack cocaine at the Alemany housing development in Bernal Heights, and Jay Kent, 50, charged with conspiracy and the sale of more than 5 grams of the drug.
The other three defendants will return to court Friday or Monday for identification of their court-appointed defense lawyers.
They are Owen Dunn, 35, accused of selling more than five grams of crack cocaine at the Plaza East project in the Western Addition; Wickett Morris, 34, accused of selling more than 50 grams of the drug at the Hayes Valley North project; and Latoya Fulbright, 23, charged with conspiracy and sale of more than 50 grams at the Alemany site.
At the request of a public defender, Fulbright, who is pregnant, may be given a hearing Friday on whether she can be released on bail, if paperwork is completed by then. The four men who were arrested will have detention hearings before Chen on Tuesday.
FBI spokeswoman Patti Hansen said the investigation was a joint operation among the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI and San Francisco Police Department.