Governor Newsom Launches New Operation to Improve Public Safety and Target Fentanyl Trafficking Rings in San Francisco

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Building on a new partnership to combat fentanyl trafficking in San Francisco, today Governor Newsom is launching a multi-agency enforcement operation and assigning California Highway Patrol and California National Guard personnel to improve public safety in the city.

SAN FRANCISCO — Building on a new partnership with the City of San Francisco, today Governor Gavin Newsom authorized the assignment of California Highway Patrol (CHP) and California National Guard (CalGuard) personnel to a new multi-agency operation in the city. The Governor and California Attorney General Rob Bonta also announced the California Department of Justice (CADOJ) intends to provide legal expertise and assistance in prosecuting complex and multi-jurisdictional cases related to the operation. The joint operation will serve as a collaborative effort between multiple agencies, including CADOJ, CHP, CalGuard, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office (SFDA). The operation will focus on targeting fentanyl trafficking, disrupting the supply of the deadly drug in the city, and holding the operators of drug trafficking rings accountable.

“Those who traffic drugs, guns, and human beings are not welcome in our communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “That’s why we’re launching this operation. This is not about criminalizing people struggling with substance use – this is about taking down the prominent poison peddlers and their connected crime rings that prey on the most vulnerable, and harm our residents. While it’s true that San Francisco is safer than many cities its size, we cannot let rampant crime continue.”

“The fentanyl crisis is a serious threat to public health and the safety of our communities — and addressing this crisis requires a multifaceted, collaborative approach,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The California Department of Justice works every day to combat the fentanyl crisis, from seizing illicit fentanyl through our ongoing enforcement efforts to bringing California billions of dollars through our lawsuits and investigative efforts to hold the opioid industry accountable. Shoulder to shoulder with our partners in this operation, we stand ready to provide legal expertise and assistance in prosecuting complex and multi-jurisdictional cases and protect our communities from those who traffic deadly poison. The California Department of Justice is all-in when it comes to protecting California families from the dangers of fentanyl.”

“The fentanyl crisis is impacting our residents, workers, and businesses, and it requires all of us working together to disrupt the flow of drugs in San Francisco while also making sure we have treatment for those struggling with addiction,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “I want to thank Governor Newsom for his support for San Francisco through this partnership between our state and local law enforcement agencies. Our Police and District Attorney have been working hard to enforce against open-air drug dealing in our City, and this partnership with the California Highway Patrol and CalGuard will help them make more progress and deliver results for our City.”

As part of this new operation, the CHP will strategically allocate a new team of law enforcement personnel to proactively enforce the law — with a focus on drug trafficking enforcement within key areas of the city, including the Tenderloin. In addition to its supplemental law enforcement efforts, the CHP will provide investigative support to develop sophisticated criminal cases and disrupt illegal opioid trafficking.  The CHP will also provide additional specialized Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement and Drug Recognition Expert training to SFPD personnel to assist local law enforcement in detecting, deterring, and preventing drug and alcohol-related crimes in the city. In a change to operations, San Francisco Area CHP units will also provide supplemental patrol in key areas of the city as workload allows.

CalGuard service members will support the analysis of drug trafficking operations, with a particular focus on disrupting and dismantling fentanyl rings in the region that contribute to the ongoing public safety and public health crisis. Similar CalGuard-supported operations conducted last month statewide resulted in the seizure of 4.7 million fentanyl pills and 2,471 lbs of fentanyl powder — with a wholesale street value of over $49 million combined. Additionally, as part of today’s announcement, the Governor has authorized CalGuard to assist SFPD with administrative non-patrol tasks to improve law enforcement’s ability to address pressing crime-fighting efforts related to this operation.

The operation announced today is expected to begin its enforcement work on Monday, May 1, 2023. Enforcement efforts will not seek to criminalize those struggling with substance use and instead focus on disrupting the supply fueling the fentanyl crisis by holding drug suppliers and traffickers accountable.

San Francisco has seen an alarming rise in fentanyl-linked deaths, with a more than 40% jump in overdose deaths from January through March of this year alone. Fentanyl-linked deaths have largely been concentrated in or near the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods of the city, where this operation will focus.

Governor Newsom’s top priority is protecting the safety, health, and well-being of all Californians. Since he took office in 2019, California has made critical investments to improve public safety and quality of life across California, including in San Francisco, through targeted efforts to reduce gun violence, combat organized retail crime, crack down on the fentanyl crisis, and improve access to essential supports, including mental health services and housing. Today’s announcement builds on the Governor’s Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis, which includes an expansion of CalGuard-supported operations that last year led to a 594% increase in seized fentanyl and historic levels of funding — $1 billion statewide — to crack down on the crisis; new initiatives in support of law enforcement personnel, including investments to improve general officer health and well-being, build resiliency, decrease stress and trauma, and improve community trust and relations; an expansion of the Organized Retail Crime Task Force to bolster local and state law enforcement efforts to address organized retail theft and other crimes, and support affected businesses; new laws, funding, and initiatives to reduce gun violence; and a litany of programs and efforts to address the housing, homelessness, and mental health crisis.