The San Francisco drug crisis

FAN Editor
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Staff via Getty Images)

OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 6:40 PM – Tuesday, March 21, 2023

An ex-addict cautioned how San Francisco, CA, has turned into the epicenter of the national drug crisis as the city faces difficulties coming up with resources to fight what some are calling a “cartel-fueled” calamity.

San Francisco activist Tom Wolf, who is also the founder of the Pacific Coalition for Prevention and Recovery, spoke about how organized crime has exacerbated the city’s opioid issue as the number of drug-related overdoses keeps rising.

“Unfortunately for San Francisco, we’ve become the epicenter of the overdose crisis in the United States,” Wolf said Tuesday. “We have the highest overdose death rate per capita of any county in the United States right now, and if we don’t step in and intervene – and what I mean by intervene is, we need to actually come in and take these organized drug dealers down because they are cartel-fueled, organized drug dealers that are operating on our streets… And we have about 500 of them right now operating in San Francisco in broad daylight, right on the street for everyone to see, and we just don’t have enough resources to stop them,” he maintained. 

These comments were made in response to a depressing video that surfaced last week showing paramedics loading a dead body onto a coroner’s van. It was noted that this was the third overdose call they had received that morning.

According to the San Francisco office of the chief medical examiner, there were 131 unintentional drug overdose fatalities between January and February of this year alone.

Considering that authorities have now captured more than 800 pounds of fentanyl between ports of entry this year alone, some have blamed the border problem for causing the rising drug deaths in recent years.

The 800 pounds retrieved include 232 pounds that were recently discovered during a traffic stop in San Clemente, California, by Border Patrol. This amount is enough to take the lives of 50 million Americans.

Wolf pointed out that there were 647 overdose deaths in San Francisco last year, indicating that if authorities do nothing, the current trend may surpass the figures from that year.

458 of those overdoses were related to fentanyl, according to the San Francisco office of the chief medical examiner.

Wolf attributed the shortcomings in the police force to the lack of incentives for rookie officers to find jobs and for veteran officers to remain in the city as they quit the force in large numbers.

“We’re down 500 police officers in our city… We took $28 million of funding away from the police two years ago. Nobody wants to come to the city to become a cop. People are retiring and leaving the police force. So, yeah, we’re really under the gun,” Wolf expressed.

According to a report released last week, an audit of state records indicated the San Francisco Police Department hired scores of either unqualified or unauthorized officers to address the dire shortage.

In the Bay Area, 45 policemen were hired in the past seven years, but their recruiting records lacked crucial details including fingerprints, citizenship documentation, transcripts of their academic achievements, and the results of their psychiatric and background checks.

“They’re saying it and framing it more in that, well, this is just a public health crisis, it’s not a criminal justice issue, when the reality is, is that it is both of those things.. When you’re ignoring one piece of the solution, you’ve heard the term ‘half measures avail us nothing,’ well that’s basically what San Francisco is stuck in. They’re stuck in doing these half measures,” continued Wolf.

The opioid problem, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans each year, is largely due to fentanyl, a drug that can be dangerous even in small quantities.

Because it is frequently mixed with other medications and is 50–100 times stronger than morphine, the user is typically unaware that they are using fentanyl. The 2.2 pounds, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), are equivalent to 500,000 life-taking doses.

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