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3 SF Tenderloin drug dealing suspects extradited from Honduras to face charges

'All Hands on Deck' crackdown on fentanyl launched in San Francisco
'All Hands on Deck' crackdown on fentanyl launched in San Francisco 04:14

SAN FRANCISCO – Three people suspected of selling drugs in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood before fleeing to Honduras have been extradited back to the United States to face charges in separate cases, federal officials announced.

U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey said Tuesday that the Honduran government has extradited Jorge Alberto Viera-Chirinos, Mayer Benegas-Medina, and Elmer Bonilla Matute.

Ramsey made the announcement while providing an update on "All Hands on Deck", an ongoing joint effort between local, state and federal agencies to crack down on drug dealing in the city. The U.S. Attorney said pressure on drug dealers in the Tenderloin would continue to increase as more elements of the program are implemented.

"In addition to the risk that your money will be taken and that you may face criminal penalties far in excess than you anticipated, you can now add that you should look over your shoulder for years after committing your crime—even if you leave the country," Ramsey said Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, Viera-Chirinos was arrested in 2019 for allegedly being one of 14 defendants trafficking "large quantities" of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine base and cocaine.

"The indictment alleged Viera-Chirinos was a high-level manager of the organization responsible for having overseen the organization's drug trafficking activities," prosecutors said in a statement.

Viera-Chirinos was released on bond in May 2020. Several months later, he fled to Honduras where he was later found.

Beneghas-Medina was indicted by a federal grand jury and arrested in Dec. 2020 for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl. He was ordered released on bond, which included terms of electronic monitoring and a curfew.

Prosecutors said he fled to Honduras in March 2021.

Matute was indicted by a federal grand jury in Dec. 2019 for allegedly being part of an operation that distributed heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and cocaine base, along with trafficking drugs into Oregon and Washington.

Prosecutors said Viera-Chirinos and Benegas-Medina made initial appearances before a federal judge on Feb. 23. Matute was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a hearing on detention and appointment of counsel. 

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