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Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Daniel Comeaux, Special Agent in Charge

September 30, 2020

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

Tenderloin drug dealer accused of trafficking fentanyl that killed one, injured another

SAN FRANCISCO – Charges were unsealed today accusing a Tenderloin drug dealer of selling fentanyl that led to the overdose death of one individual and the hospitalization of another individual, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Toby Schwartz of the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Additional facts regarding the investigation and charges can be found here: https://youtu.be/6Xy3vG9bwq4

According to the complaint, on May 18, 2020, the defendant, Celin David Doblado-Canaca, age 38, sold fentanyl near the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Hyde Streets in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.  The drugs were taken to San Bruno, California, where the substance was ingested later that night by two individuals who believed they were using cocaine.  The fentanyl killed one user and nearly killed another.  The victims were discovered by a family member in the early hours of May 19, 2020.   

“Fentanyl is pouring into our community from China and Mexico.  Because it is incredibly powerful in even the smallest doses, fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs and marketed as other drugs.  Many drug users who die of fentanyl overdoses never even know that they have been given fentanyl.  The epicenter of this fentanyl disaster is the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “I feel strongly that the Tenderloin is a wonderful neighborhood, a diverse neighborhood, a relatively affordable neighborhood, a neighborhood of children and the elderly.  However, the Tenderloin neighborhood is also home to an open-air drug market that is spreading death throughout the Bay Area.  The drug dealing that is openly oppressing the Tenderloin is quietly undermining neighborhoods across San Francisco, Oakland, San Mateo, Sonoma, Marin County and elsewhere.  What happens in the Tenderloin does not stay in the Tenderloin.”

“We know fentanyl is potent and fatal in the smallest amounts. We are increasingly seeing it mixed with other drugs or sold as something else. Unfortunately, the user often doesn’t know this until it is too late. It is truly a game of Russian roulette,” said DEA Assistant Special in Charge Schwartz.  “Working with our local counterparts in these drug overdose cases is a priority for us. We want to send the message to all those who are distributing this poison in our community, we will find you and bring you to justice.  I would like to acknowledge the outstanding efforts by officers from the San Bruno, South San Francisco, and San Francisco Police Departments for their partnership in this investigation.” 

The complaint affidavit describes how investigators traced backwards from the scene of the overdose death in San Bruno to the Tenderloin, and ultimately identified Doblado-Canaca as the alleged source of the fentanyl.  As part of their investigation, officers stopped and searched Doblado-Canaca when he entered a liquor store at the corner of Hyde and Turk Streets in San Francisco, where he was found to have more than a dozen small baggies of substances alleged to be fentanyl and heroin.  The drugs and their packaging appeared to be organized for sale.

Doblado-Canaca was arrested in San Francisco on August 21, 2020, and made his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on August 25, 2020.  Doblado-Canaca is currently being held in custody pending further proceedings.  The case was unsealed today, on September 30, 2020, when Doblado-Canaca made an appearance before the Honorable Alex G. Tse, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

A complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, and a fine of $1,000,000, for each violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C).  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

This case was prosecuted by member agencies of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.  The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the San Bruno Police Department, the South San Francisco Police Department, and the San Francisco Police Department. 

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