A group of four people who were suspected of being drug dealers was allowed access once again to San Francisco’s horridly drug-infested and crime-ridden Tenderloin district by order of an appeals judge in California against pleas from city officials that have been attempting to bar the group from being in the district.
City officials named Christian Noel Padilla-Martel, Victor Zelaya, 27, Jarold Sanchez, 23, and Guadaloupe Aguilar-Benegas, 28, as people who needed to be banned from the entire district, stating that they have been “engaged in the illegal sale of controlled substances.” However, Justice Marla Miller stated that the order from the city was an infringement on the individual’s constitutional right to travel.
“The court determined that excluding defendants from such a large area in the center of San Francisco implicates the constitutional right to intrastate travel … and the City failed to meet its evidentiary burden of convincing the court that its proposed remedy was sufficiently tailored to minimally infringe upon the protected interests at stake,” stated Miller.
In the wake of being arrested by police officials three separate times on drug charges, Padilla Martel made the claim that he required access to the district in order to visit his young son that was currently being raised by his grandparents. Additionally, Zelaya, who also has had three arrests for drugs, stated that he needed to be able to pay visits to his two daughters from a prior relationship. In the same vein, Aguilar-Benegas, who had been taken into custody over drug charges five times and is currently pregnant, stated that her ultrasound required her to be in the district for it to be taken.
One spokesman for the San Francisco City attorney, Jen Kwart, issued a reaction to Miller’s ruling, stating, “We are currently evaluating potential next steps, and we will continue to look for ways to use civil law to promote and increase public safety in the Tenderloin.”
“San Francisco Police reported about 600 drug-dealing arrests in 2020, with 40 percent of the 699 fatal overdoses reported that year taking place in Tenderloin and the city’s South Market neighborhood,” stated the Daily Mail, going on to add, “In Tenderloin specifically, police seized over $280,000 in cash from drug bust and collected more than 18 kilograms of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in 2020.”
“Faced with a stunning rise in drug overdose deaths the last few years, the vast majority tied to fentanyl, San Francisco has launched mobile teams made up of paramedics and nurses,” reported a piece from NPR back in November of 2021.