SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release on Friday, February 26, stating that their new program, the Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin (FIT) “has brought together the resources of more than 15 federal law enforcement agencies to combat endemic drug trafficking, firearms offenses, robberies and other crime in the neighborhood.”
Violent offenders in the Tenderloin neighborhood have been arrested and 15 federal prosecutors were assigned to their cases.
U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said that Tenderloin’s residents are “good people leading law-abiding lives,” and that it is not fair that they have to “tolerate lawlessness in the Tenderloin” that is not acceptable in other neighborhoods in San Francisco.
Federal authorities indicated that since they announced the FIT program on August 7, 2019, defendants like Darwin Villatoro, a Tenderloin drug dealer, was arrested and charged with federal crimes.
The San Francisco Police Department said in 2020, the Tenderloin District was “severely impacted by illegal drug dealing.” The police indicated in a statement published in September 2020 that “San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood is known to users and dealers throughout the Bay Area as a place to buy illegal drugs.”
Authorities say that Villatoro, 30, was arrested three times between January 2019 thru January 2020.
When Villatoro was arrested the first time, the police reported they found 22 bindles of heroin, 5 bindles of meth, and 10 bindles of crack cocaine inside his backpack.
The second time he was arrested they found 26 bindles of heroin and 8 bindles of crack cocaine.
“Officers observed Villatoro at the intersection of Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street, which is within 1,000 feet of both the Tenderloin Community Elementary School and the N. Helen Diller Civic Center Playground,” reads the statement.
The third time Villatoro was arrested they found 75 bindles of crack cocaine, 13 packages of fentanyl, 22 bindles of heroin, and 11 “individually wrapped packages of methamphetamine.”
On February 13, 2020, authorities said a federal grand jury charged Villatoro of possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, and he pled guilty to all counts.
Jail records indicate Villatoro is serving his prison sentence at FCI Herlong, a medium-security prison in Lassen County, California, and will be released on September 20, 2021.
Since the FIT program began, authorities said that 244 defendants have been charged and 114 have been sentenced. “The FIT initiative has prioritized federal charges for criminal misconduct with a nexus to the Tenderloin,” the statement reads.
U.S. Attorney Anderson said that he will “continue with the effort for a minimum of one year and there are no current plans to terminate or provide an end date for the initiative.”