A partnership between the California government and San Francisco could see some of the city’s drug dealers charged with murder for overdoses from opioids, including fentanyl.
The new joint task force investigating opioid-linked deaths and poisonings will include members of the California Highway Patrol, California National Guard, San Francisco Police Department, and San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, per a Friday release from the office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.
Opioid deaths will now be treated as akin to homicide.
“The opioid crisis has claimed too many, and fentanyl traffickers must be held accountable including, as appropriate, for murder. This task force is fighting for those affected by this crisis — for victims and loved ones who deserve peace,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement, “Traditionally, overdoses have not been investigated as murders. … we will be able to investigate fatal fentanyl overdoses where evidence may be collected to establish a connection to the person who provided the drugs that killed someone so that they can possibly be charged with murder.”
After California authorities stepped up enforcement in the city starting on May 1, there have been 40.7 pounds of fentanyl seized and 364 felony and misdemeanor arrests in parts of San Francisco known for drug crimes, according to the release.
As of Oct. 1, there have been 619 “preliminary unintentional drug overdose deaths” in San Francisco, according to data from the city government.