Feds charge alleged fentanyl dealer amid rise in overdose deaths

A man who allegedly continued to deal drugs in the Tenderloin despite being arrested by San Francisco police on multiple...

A man who allegedly continued to deal drugs in the Tenderloin despite being arrested by San Francisco police on multiple occasions is now facing federal charges, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Celin David Doblado-Canaca, 38, is charged with distribution of fentanyl in connection with the overdose death of one person and the hospitalization of another in San Bruno, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The two individuals are believed to have overdosed on a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl purchased from Doblado-Canaca near Golden Gate Avenue and Hyde Street on May 18, prosecutors said.

Doblado-Canaca was later arrested after an undercover officer allegedly purchased fentanyl from him based on information from a confidential source.

The charges come as local and federal officials ramp up pressure on alleged drug dealers in the Tenderloin.

Doblado-Canaca is one of the 28 alleged drug dealers who City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued in civil court last week seeking court orders preventing them from entering the Tenderloin.

If Herrera succeeds, the alleged dealers would have to pay up to $6,000 each time they violate the orders.

Overdose deaths are on the rise in San Francisco, with more than 300 reported so far this year alone, mostly related to fentanyl, according to U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California David Anderson.

Anderson said Tenderloin drug dealing is also “spreading death throughout the Bay Area.”

“The drug dealing that is openly oppressing the Tenderloin is quietly undermining neighborhoods across San Francisco, Oakland, San Mateo, Sonoma, Marin County and elsewhere,” Anderson said in a statement. “What happens in the Tenderloin does not stay in the Tenderloin.”

According to the civil case against Doblado-Canaca, he was arrested for allegedly selling drugs three times between May 2019 and April 2020.

He was charged by the District Attorney’s Office and pleaded guilty to a felony for being an accessory after the fact in the first case, had his probation revoked in the second and faces drug charges for the third arrest that are still pending, according to the lawsuit.

The increased law and order efforts in the Tenderloin are not without criticism.

After Herrera announced the proposed injunctions last week, Public Defender Mano Raju called the plan “another chapter in the war on drugs that has simply failed to impact drug use or sales, while harming low-income people and communities of color.”

“More enforcement of low-level, subsistence street level sellers is not the solution to this ongoing public health crisis,” Raju said. “Rather, we should use our resources to provide meaningful alternatives to street level dealers – including housing, job training, and employment.”

He encouraged authorities to get at the “source of the drug trade” instead.

Herrera has acknowledged that his plan “is not a silver bullet.”

“More needs to be done, including more drug treatment options, expanded mental health help, and a concerted focus on major narcotics suppliers,” Herrera said in a statement. “But these injunctions will give law enforcement one more tool to help keep Tenderloin residents safe.”

Doblado-Canaca remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail without bail.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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