New San Francisco DA goes after school-side fentanyl dealers, to revoke Chesa Boudin-era drug plea deal offers

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The new district attorney in San Francisco announced Wednesday a new policy revoking plea offers for drug crimes made under ousted DA Chesa Boudin in an effort to crack down on rampant fentanyl dealing happening in the liberal city’s notorious homeless camps as well as just steps away from schools.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said the new policy would prohibit dealers arrested with more than five grams of drugs from being referred to San Francisco’s community justice court (CJC). The new policy will also consider adding charging enhancements for drug dealing within 1,000 feet of a school, and Jenkins vowed that her prosecutors will potentially seek pre-trial detention of fentanyl dealers in extreme cases.

“The previous administration’s policy had no weight limit threshold, was not adhering to CJC guidelines, and allowed drug dealers, arrested with as much as 500 grams of fentanyl, and who had multiple open fentanyl cases, to be referred to CJC,” according to a statement released by Jenkins’ office. 

Jenkins also announced that she has revoked over 30 open plea offers put forward by the Boudin administration, including an egregious case involving one defendant who had six open cases – all for dealing fentanyl in the Tenderloin District. The defendant was arrested with more than 100 grams of the deadly drug and was in CJC at the time Jenkins assumed office July 8. 

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Brooke Jenkins attends a news conference at City Hall, Thursday, July 7, 2022, in San Francisco. 

Brooke Jenkins attends a news conference at City Hall, Thursday, July 7, 2022, in San Francisco. 
(Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

This defendant was referred to CJC over five times despite failing to complete any of the CJC mandated requirements and violating the terms of a stay-away order from the Tenderloin area when he was arrested on each subsequent new case, according to the new district attorney. 

Despite this, that suspect was offered a single misdemeanor to settle all six cases.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin looks on during an election-night event on June 07, 2022, in San Francisco, California. 

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin looks on during an election-night event on June 07, 2022, in San Francisco, California. 
( (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images))

“Since 2020, nearly 1,5000 people have died of drug overdose in part because dealers have been allowed to operate with impunity,” Jenkins said in a statement. “The lethality of fentanyl presents a different challenge, and we must immediately change course, so we can save lives and hold people accountable for the havoc they are wreaking in our communities like the Tenderloin and South of Market. Going forward defendants holding lethal doses of fentanyl will face felony charges.”

Jenkins noted San Francisco Superior Court data shows the Boudin administration did not obtain a single conviction for dealing fentanyl in all of 2021. 

A liberal herself, Jenkins said the same does not go for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who is now facing a recall effort of his own. Jenkins said Gascon, when he formerly served as district attorney in San Francisco, oversaw at least 90 drug-dealing convictions by his office in 2018.

Homeless people consume illegal drugs in an encampment along Willow St. in the Tenderloin district of downtown on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in San Francisco.

Homeless people consume illegal drugs in an encampment along Willow St. in the Tenderloin district of downtown on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in San Francisco.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A review of open narcotics sales cases, ordered by Jenkins in one of her first actions in office, found that as of July 2022, there are approximately 156 open narcotics sales — or possession for sale cases — in collaborative courts. Notably, 57%, or 88 of those cases, involve the sale of fentanyl. 

Jenkins said 26 defendants referred to a collaborative court have two open cases; nine have three open cases; four have four open cases; and one has five open cases.

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There are 37 cases involving over 50 grams of fentanyl including 20 with over 100 grams. The most egregious cases are for defendants arrested in possession of 243, 249, 291, and 308 grams of fentanyl each. All the cases above are currently in the CJC. Of the defendants with more than two open cases for drug dealing, all of them were offered misdemeanors. 

For the open plea offers Jenkins revoked, the district attorney’s office will seek a felony charge that includes jail time as part of the new offer.

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