The San Francisco public defender’s office has accused a Latino police officer of racial discrimination against Latino drug dealers in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood.
According to state defense attorneys for one of the suspected neighborhood drug dealers, Sgt. Daniel Solorzano, over a period of about two years, arrested 53 people for drug sales, all of them Latinos. Meanwhile, they allege he declined to arrest 43 other people that police had arrested or placed under surveillance, all but two of whom were non-Hispanic.
Solorzano is of Mexican and Nicaraguan descent and his native language is Spanish.
The request, filed by the Public Defender last March under the California Racial Justice Act, requests “any records or memoranda relating to investigations by the SFPD or the San Francisco Attorney’s Office of enforcement drug sales activity in the Tenderloin District.”
If the court agrees to the allegation of “racial bias and animus toward Hispanic or Latino individuals,” suspects arrested by Solorzano could be released or their charges reduced, and Solorzano could face disciplinary action, possibly including termination.
Solorzano, who has worked with the San Francisco Police Department for 14 years — 12 in the tenderloin — does not give media interviews and has been reassigned to another detail while awaiting the judge’s decision on his case.
“The Public Defender’s Office is targeting Sgt. Solorzano because he is a frontrunner in the fight against the fentanyl epidemic in San Francisco,” Solorzano’s attorney, Nicole Pifori, wrote in an email. “He’s swiped over 18 pounds of drugs off the streets this year alone. These requests are nothing more than a form of harassment designed to dissuade police from protecting San Franciscos from the scourge caused by the sale of fentanyl in the tenderloin.”
The motion further suggests that prosecutors, then led by the leftist Chesa Boudin, broke the law by charging Latinos in the tenderloin with more serious crimes than suspects of other races arrested for similar offenses. The public defender’s office declined to comment.
“The SFPD has a long and current problem with racial disparities in arrests,” said John Hamasaki, a criminal defense attorney and former member of the San Francisco Police Commission who is running for the district attorney’s office up for election in November.
Solorzano’s defense attorneys point out that almost all of the tenderloin’s drug dealers are Latinos.
Most of the non-prescription drugs offered at the tenderloin are sold by Honduran national dealers recruited by Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, who each make at least $1,000 a day, said Tom Ostly, a former prosecutor with the office of the San Francisco Attorney. San Francisco is one of five US cities where the Honduran recruits provided by the Sinaloa cartel operate, he said.
“Perhaps the cartel is racist because it only hires people from one ethnic group and one national origin,” Ostly said. “If the defense argued that a specific race was being targeted, I would suggest that they contact the Sinaloa Cartel and tell their human resources department that they need to implement a more robust diversity plan that is consistent with San Francisco values.” .”
Of the 43 people Solorzano did not arrest, the public defender could only identify five by name and acknowledge that all five were users who mistook drugs for the dealers — a much lesser offense than dealing. The public defender could not identify the names or crimes of the remaining 36 people who had not been arrested.
“We don’t control who sells drugs in the Tenderloin,” added Lt. Tracy McCray, an SFPD officer and president of the city’s police union who grew up in San Francisco. “I was a teenager in the 80s. We had dealers who were white and black and sold in the tenderloin. Today it’s Latino drug dealers. What should we do? We don’t choose.”
Ostly, who has prosecuted dozens of drug dealers in the Tenderloin, including those arrested by Solorzano, said Solorzano is a compassionate officer who is kind to those he arrests and works hard to resolve problems in a way that avoids incarceration will. Ostly said Solorzano would regularly try to help traders find alternative sources of income.
“It was obvious that he also had the merchants’ well-being and future at heart,” Ostly said.
McCray, who also worked with Solorzano when both were assigned to the city’s Bayview Station, praised Solorzano’s work ethic and professionalism. She is outraged by the accusations of racism.
“I’m black,” she said. “I grew up in a black community. If you do wrong, you do wrong. It doesn’t matter what race you are.”
McCray believes the Public Defender’s Office is trying to “weaponize a law and engineer it for its own use” to bail out drug dealers. She says it is the district attorney’s and city attorney’s responsibility to defend Solorzano, but “it falls to us (the union) to do our job to defend him — and we will do it.”
https://nypost.com/2022/09/13/latino-sfpd-cop-branded-racist-for-arresting-hispanic-drug-dealers/ Latino SFPD cop branded ‘racist’ for busting Hispanic drug dealers