Feds announce major crackdown on drug dealing, other crimes in Tenderloin District of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The federal government is cracking down on crimes in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, which is being called one of the largest open-air drug markets in the entire state of California.

US Attorney David Anderson says, "The Tenderloin has become a magnet for retail drug trafficking to an extraordinary degree."

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The "T" as locals call it-- the US Attorney calls it one of the State's biggest open air drug markets. Police operations there are not new.

Now a tough new federal initiative with federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies specifically assigned to combat crime in the T.

"Fifteen Assistant US Attorneys to this initiative and more than 15 law enforcement agencies," said Anderson

Fifteen federal prosecutors to prosecute drug traffickers and other criminals in the Tenderloin for a period of one year.

Long overdue says Randy Shaw, head of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.

"This is the first time we've had any high law enforcement official make these commitments to the neighborhood. It's been 40 years we've waited for this response."

To make his point, Anderson announced the arrest of 32 alleged drug traffickers. Two of them, Anderson said, are high ranking traffickers from Mexico and Honduras. Their street dealers were housed in Oakland and commuted by BART to the Tenderloin.

"Up to 10 of these drug dealers would live together in these East Bay residences that were leased by highly organized drug traffickers," said Chris Nielson, head of the Drug Enforcement Agency in San Francisco.

ABC7 News has been embedded with San Francisco police on numerous ride longs through the Tenderloin.

The last one was in April where officers arrested some 60 people, mostly on drug offenses. But within a week, we found that about 80 percent of them were out of custody. Their cases dismissed or reduced, they made bail or were free while awaiting court dates.

The federal justice system can be tougher on crime.

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"We have a wide array of tools we can use of different kinds of charging statutes that Congress has given to us," said Anderson.

The US Attorney says his office will not prosecute what he calls "innocent homelessness" nor will they go after drug users who are not dealing.
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