Radical San Francisco DA Prosecuted Just 3 Drug Cases in 2021, 0 Involving Fentanyl

San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin (D.) / Getty Images
May 18, 2022

San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin (D.) did not oversee a single conviction for fentanyl, the highly potent opiate driving an overdose epidemic in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Standard reported on Tuesday.

Boudin's office prosecuted two methamphetamine cases and one case involving heroin and cocaine but none involving fentanyl. Around 600 people died from overdoses last year in the city, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. More people died from fentanyl than COVID-19.

Drug overdose deaths have been on the rise nationwide since 2019. The crisis, which the coronavirus pandemic aggravated, is being driven by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, according to the CDC. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported synthetic opioid-related deaths jumped 56 percent from 2020 to 2021.

The overdose spike is threatening public safety as open-air drug markets and accompanying crimes proliferate in the Bay Area. Homicide, violent shootings, and theft were up in 2021. Democratic mayor London Breed in December declared a state of emergency in the Tenderloin district in response to the drug epidemic.

A San Francisco Democrat last week joined a recall campaign against Boudin, saying citizens "don't feel safe" in the city.

"People don't feel safe in our city anymore," said Catherine Stefani, who has served on the city's board of supervisors since 2018. "And sadly, with Chesa Boudin in office, they have little reason to expect that to change. To have any prayer of making real progress, we need a district attorney who will put aside ideology, who will seek to listen rather than to be heard, and who will take the problems we face seriously. That person is not Chesa Boudin."

Boudin's prosecutorial approach has favored migrants by avoiding felony drug charges that would trigger deportation. Critics have pointed out that the decision to not prosecute drug charges has other consequences.

"My best friend died of a heroin overdose here in San Francisco, because I couldn't help him. There have to be limits," Rene Colorado, executive director of the Tenderloin Merchants Association, told the Standard. "If you're undocumented and selling fentanyl, guess what, you have to face the consequences. You have to do your time here in the States and you're probably going to be deported."

The recall election will be held on June 7.