One year into Governor Newsom sending California Highway Patrol officers into SF in a fentanyl crackdown, he’s touting that they’ve seized 42 pounds of fentanyl just in the Tenderloin, and insists that crime is down significantly in SF.

We are coming up on the one-year anniversary of California Governor Gavin Newsom deploying the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to combat the SF fentanyl trade, particularly in the Tenderloin. And while we are not quite at the May 1 one-year anniversary of the effort, KRON4 reports that Newsom’s office put out a Tuesday morning press release which declares CHP officers have “seized more than 42 pounds of fentanyl in the approximately 10-block radius of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood since May 1, 2023.”


Newsom’s press release hypes this with the headline “Crime is Down in San Francisco.” And Mayor London Breed was quick to retweet the message, likely grateful for the additional state resources that could well help her politically in a difficult November mayoral race.

“Property crime is down 32% and violent crime is down 14% compared to the first quarter of 2023, according to local San Francisco police data,” Newsom’s office says in the press release. “This reduction reflects the work of local law enforcement and state and federal efforts. Law enforcement agencies continue to work collaboratively to improve public safety.”

This is actually consistent with trends that started well before the CHP crackdown, and the correlation may not equal causality. But the fentanyl seizures were certainly thanks to the CHP, considering they were deployed here for operations, and assisted with many of the arrests themselves.

Newsom’s release touts that “In addition to the seizure of 19.2 kilos of fentanyl (which equates to over 9.6 million lethal doses of the drug), the CHP has issued 6,044 citations leading to 496 arrests for illegal activity and recovered 15 crime-linked guns as part of its operation in San Francisco.”

This is fine progress and all, but we do have to question whatever methodology is behind these claims of “9.6 million lethal doses” of fentanyl. These wild claims about how many millions of people could have been killed by whatever amount of fentanyl was seized never seem to come with footnotes on what constitutes a lethal dose. Like, enough fentanyl to kill an everyday user? Or enough to kill your Aunt Tilly who’s in hospice care?

Regardless, this expansive effort may be paying off with more arrests, but it’s not clear whether there’s any noticeable change in conditions in the Tenderloin. Of course it is in Gavin Newsom’s interest to declare that Gavin Newsom’s efforts are really paying off here (he’s making similar efforts in Oakland, too). But it’s debatable whether people are noticing any difference in the prevalence of the SF fentanyl trade, and there’s a political risk of seeming out-of-touch if constituents don’t feel they’re actually seeing any progress.

Related: SFPD Touts Drug Bust That Seized Eight Pounds of Fentanyl, 32 Pounds of Meth [SFNews]

Image: CHP Merced via Facebook