San Francisco’s Tenderloin district has been dubbed ‘Million Dollar Mile’ by Honduran drug dealers who dominate the drug trade in the Dem-led city, riddled with the deathly opioid fentanyl, according to a new report.
The city, which has had more than 2,200 overdose deaths since 2020, is plagued with Honduran drug dealers who are drawn in and able to thrive in the city due to its relaxed drug policies – some making upwards of $350,000 a year.
The San Francisco Chronicle conducted an 18-month investigation into the ‘open-air’ drug markets in the city and released their findings in a report published Monday.
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Instead of uncovering a ring of Hondurans forced to sell drugs in the Tenderloin, the report found a global operation running from a group of ‘desperate, impoverished villages’ in Honduras to San Francisco streets.
‘It really just started as a small group of Hondurans who were here probably for other reasons, economic reasons, got into drug trafficking,’ Wade Shannon, a recently retired special agent at the DEA in San Francisco, told the Chronicle.
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‘They recommended other friends come up, and then they started consolidating. And then, you know, San Francisco itself had its own sort of old networks of African American distributors and others and there was violence between those groups before the Hondurans came in and finally overwhelmed and consolidated their control,’ she added.
In one year, US immigration officials encountered more than half a million people from this region at the Southwest land border, including more tan 200,000 Hondurans, according to data published by US Customs and Border Protection.
The figure amounts to about two percent of the country’s population of 10 million.
But in San Francisco, just 200 Honduran migrants have been charged with drug dealing since 2022, the paper reported – a figure which massively downplays the true scale of the network.
The number does not include Honduran dealers who were convicted in previous cases or others who have never been arrested.
And only six percent of people charged with drug-sale crimes in San Francisco from 2018 to 2022 have so far been convicted on a drug charge.
Sentences ranked from one day to three years, with an average of 168 days, records show.
Following the report, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Member Matt Dorsey has asked City Hall to investigate the justice system after it came to light that drug dealers making upwards of $350,000 per year are still eligible for legal counsel from the Public Defender’s Office.
‘Do street-level drug dealers who ‘can make as much as $350,000 a year — or even more if they help run a local operation’ receive taxpayer-funded legal services to defend their criminal cases in San Francisco?‘ Dorsey tweeted on Tuesday.
Dorsey debated that wealthy drug dealer defendants might not deserve publicly funded legal aid at all: ‘The 6th Amendment and S.F. Charter ensure free lawyers to those who can’t afford them. Yes, EVERY indigent defendant deserves publicly funded legal counsel. But shouldn’t ONLY indigent defendants deserve publicly funded counsel?’
The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office criticized Dorsey in a press release Tuesday.
‘Dorsey’s inquiry alone is a waste of taxpayer resources, and an insult to the due process legal protections laid out in the U.S. Constitution. The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office proudly provides high-level representation to over 20,000 indigent and low-income individuals every year,’ it read.
While many dealers flourish off their drug dealing – with gated mansions and significant salaries – others are struggling to make it, in financial distress and living in fear, according to the report.
The Public Defender’s Office also pointed out that the bulk of its clients are living in poverty.
The Honduran dealers have been able to take over the streets thanks to Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels from Mexico, who produce and distribute the majority of drugs sold in the Bay Area.
The cartels depend on the Hondurans as their primary sales arm, the investigation found.
The group that makes the drugs typically controls the market, Shannon said to the Chronicle.
‘If (the cartels) decide to ever cut (the Hondurans) off, that’s the end of the game,’ Shannon added. ‘But I think they provide a value to the cartels there; they’re moving a lot of their product.’
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