Goodbye crack, hello OxyContin
New Police Chief George Gascón's focus on undercover drug stings in the Tenderloin has had an interesting side-effect: far fewer sales of heroin and crack cocaine, and more sales of OxyContin and other pills.
We told you last month about "Operation Safe Schools," the focus on heroin and cocaine sales within 1,000 feet of schools. Under California law, such deals come with a bail enhancement and an extra three to five years in prison. Everybody arrested with the enhancement since the operation's start in mid-September remains in jail with a bail of at least $100,000.
But it seems the undercover operation has run its course.
"The guys who were selling the coke and heroin just aren't down there anymore. It kind of flushed them out," said Lt. Jim Miller of the field operations bureau. "Word's getting around that if you sell around the schools in the Tenderloin, you're not getting out of jail...It's a huge deterrent that we didn't anticipate."
That's not to say the Tenderloin has turned into Mayberry. Far from it. The dealers are still there; they're just selling painkillers like OxyContin which costs $40 a pill on the streets.
Asked whether he thought state law should be changed so dealing pills near schools comes with the same penalty as heroin and crack, Miller said, "Definitely."
"Pills now are a huge part of street sales, at least in some areas of San Francisco, and they're extremely addictive," he said. "And the kids don't see whether it's cocaine or a pill - all they see is some drug dealer across the street selling drugs. It really doesn't matter what's being sold - it still has the same impact on the kids."