SAN FRANCISCO - It is a massive drug bust, by just about any measure.
Over the weekend the Alameda County Sheriff's Department announced the seizure of 92 pounds of fentanyl during raids in Oakland and Hayward, and investigators believe those drugs were bound for San Francisco.
It is a massive haul, but even those behind the investigation worry that it won't put a dent in the drug supply.
To try to put 92 pounds in a street-level perspective in San Francisco, consider that Tenderloin police have frequently been pulling more than a kilo a week off the street.
Those numbers are up this year, but even at that rate, it would take six or seven months to collect what was just found in Oakland and Hayward.
Authorities said that fentanyl was likely headed here to the streets of the Tenderloin.
"What happens is, Alameda County, here in the East Bay, we are supplying a lot of the fentanyl ends up on the street in San Francisco, which has led to a lot of the problems in that city," said Lt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda Co. Sheriff's Office.
It is a look into the supply chain that is common knowledge on the street. San Francisco's notorious open-air drug market is largely supplied by distribution centers in the East Bay, usually receiving product from beyond our borders.
"From China, then down through Mexico," Kelly explained. "Through the cartel trafficking rings, up into the United States."
Beau Kilmer, Ph.D. of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center said, "I don't know what the purity is for the powder that was just seized there in Alameda County, but if you look at the seizure data from the product that seems coming across the border from Mexico, it's maybe, roughly, 10% pure fentanyl."
Kilmer said the bust is huge, possibly enough to supply 1,000 addicts for one year. It still may not change the market.
"These markets react very quickly," he explained. "A lot is going to depend on how much product is available at other stash houses. How quickly can you get other product from Mexico."
And that is one more challenge posed by fentanyl. On top of its potency and low price point, it is very easy to come up with more.
"As opposed to when we talk about cocaine or heroin, where it has to be grown and harvested, fentanyl does take that long to produce," Kilmer said, "You can produce a fair amount of it in the course of days or weeks."
Kelly went on to say, "I would equate it to shutting down a gas station in a city, you're not going to impact the supply chains that's in existence out there."
0One person was arrested as part of the raid in Oakland and Hayward. The investigation is ongoing.
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