Mayor Todd Gloria Tuesday signed an executive order to address the illicit fentanyl crisis in the city by strengthening and prioritizing law enforcement for crimes related to the sale of the drug.
Fentanyl overdoses claimed the lives of more than 800 San Diegans last year, 113 of them homeless, according to the mayor’s office and SDPD. Five years ago, two people experiencing homelessness died from fentanyl overdoses.
“The proliferation of fentanyl in our communities — and the accompanying death and destruction it’s causing in our communities — demands swift action from all levels of government,” Gloria said. “As mayor, I’m going to do everything within my authority to tackle this crisis head-on.
“Today, we’re taking measures to help disrupt the distribution of fentanyl and hold predatory dealers accountable for the harm they’re causing to our community,” he said.
Executive Order 2022-1 directs the San Diego Police Department to focus on fentanyl sales-related crimes. It also announced the city’s intent to pursue legislation at the state and federal levels to address the rise in fentanyl overdoses, including: reclassifying illicit, non-pharmaceutical fentanyl and analogs as Schedule 1 drugs federally; pursuing sentencing enhancements for trafficking and sales near schools; and seeking state and federal funding for trafficking enforcement, education and treatment programs.
“Far too many people in our community, from all walks of life, have felt the devastating effects of fentanyl,” said SDPD Chief David Nisleit. “We must take an aggressive approach to this epidemic. The San Diego Police Department continues to work with our law enforcement and community partners to track down, arrest and prosecute those who would peddle this poison in our neighborhoods and to some of our most vulnerable populations.”
The order also directs city staff to develop a plan in concert with the San Diego City Council and city attorney for what to do with the estimated $30 million in national opioid settlement funding that will be coming to the city over the next eight years, a city statement reads.
“Combating the fentanyl crisis in our region which is harming and killing our family members, children and neighbors is a top priority for my office,” said San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan. “I welcome and support Mayor Gloria’s executive order which brings an enhanced focus to fighting this deadly epidemic through increasing prevention and education, alongside pursuing laws that will give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools to investigate and prosecute illegal drug dealers poisoning our community with fentanyl-laced pills and powders.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid invented as an anesthetic for surgery. Deaths from the drug, which is cheap to produce and far more potent than heroin, have increased tenfold from five years ago, when it first emerged as a common street drug.
Gloria announced his intent to enact an executive order on fentanyl at a media briefing with law enforcement earlier this month. The order takes effect immediately.
–City News Service