SFPD, feds nab drugs, suspects in bust

More than $300,000 worth of crack, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine was seized by San Francisco police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in a five-month-long joint sting operation, officials announced Thursday.

The joint operation focused primarily on the Western Addition, where agents busted alleged members of the “Knockout Posse” and “Chopper City” gangs for selling drugs in the area between Divisadero, Laguna, Eddy and Grove streets. The City’s decade-high homicide rate stems from the gang violence that plagues neighborhoods such as the Western Addition, Bayview and Mission.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Russ Giuntini said the operation was successful in that it helped to “root out drug dealers that are often the cause of violence” in San Francisco.

The sting also led agents and police to Richmond, Pinole and Brentwood. Undercover agents bought drugs, recorded the transactions, then used that evidence to obtain arrest warrants against the suspects.

The suspects in one Richmond home that was raided were making crack and driving it to San Francisco for sale on the streets of the Tenderloin, San Francisco police Capt. Hettrich said.

“There was crack cocaine cooking on the stove when we entered,” Hettrich said.

The San Francisco Police Department worked with a specialized arm of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to carry out the operation, officials announced. Since June, federal agents and city police have arrested 24 of 27 identified suspects. Eight arrestees will be prosecuted federally for drug charges; 16 face state prosecution on drug and gun charges, as well as outstanding warrants and probation violations, according to the DEA.

The operation began when Chief Heather Fong wrote a letter to the DEA earlier this year, requesting the assistance of one of its so-called Mobile Enforcement Teams, Fong said at a news conference Thursday. The Mobile Enforcement Teams, which are part of the federal agency, respond to local agencies’ requests for assistance in investigating and arresting major drug dealers.

Greg Sullivan, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA’s San Francisco Field Division, said the teams bring resources such as manpower, equipment and money for use in cooperation with local agencies. While the San Francisco Police Department has worked with the DEA before, this was the first time a Mobile Enforcement Team was deployed in The City.

The team started working with San Francisco police on June 13, agents said. Over the four months the operation lasted, the DEA reported 14.5 pounds of drugs were seized, with a street value estimated at $322,000.

Three suspects identified during the operation are still at large. Police are looking for Damarcus “Cupcake” Nelson, 32, Sala “Sly” Thorn, 31, and Tanaya Williams, 19, all of San Francisco.

amartin@examiner.com

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