Darwin Villatoro pleaded guilty and was sentenced this week to 28 months in prison for possessing with intent to distribute heroin, possessing with intent to distribute heroin in a school zone, and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine base, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux.
According to the United States’ sentencing memorandum, Villatoro, 29, of Honduras, was arrested three times between January 2019 and January 2020. The first arrest occurred on January 28, 2019, when San Francisco Police Department officers observed Villatoro in the 300 block of Golden Gate Avenue in violation of a previous order. The order required Villatoro to stay at least 150 yards away from the intersection of Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street. When officers attempted to approach Villatoro, he fled on foot and discarded his backpack. After a brief chase, the officers arrested Villatoro and searched his backpack, which contained 22 bindles of heroin, five bindles of methamphetamine, and 10 bindles of cocaine base.
The second arrest occurred on October 26, 2019. On that date, officers observed Villatoro at the intersection of Golden Gate Avenue and Larkin Street, which is within 1,000 feet of both the Tenderloin Community Elementary School and the N. Helen Diller Civic Center Playground. According to papers filed by the government, officers knew Villatoro was the subject of multiple outstanding felony warrants. When officers approached Villatoro, he fled and threw a plastic baggie to the ground. Officers arrested Villatoro and recovered 26 bindles of heroin and eight bindles of cocaine base from the plastic baggie.
The third arrest, on January 27, 2020, occurred after officers observed Villatoro walking on the 300 block of Golden Gate Avenue, in violation of an active stay away order from that location. Officers arrested Villatoro, who, on that occasion, possessed 75 bindles of cocaine base, 13 packages of fentanyl, 22 bindles of heroin, and 11 individually wrapped packages of methamphetamine.
On February 13, 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Villatoro, charging him with possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, all in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). Villatoro pleaded guilty to all three counts. The defendant has been in custody since March 16, 2020 and will begin serving his sentence immediately.
San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood has been especially severely impacted by illegal drug dealing. “San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood is known to users and dealers throughout the Bay Area as a place to buy illegal drugs,” according to local law enforcement. Indeed, more than half of all the drug sales incidents booked or cited by the San Francisco Police Department took place in the Tenderloin district—specifically, “56 percent … by far the highest of any police district in the City” in fiscal year 2017–2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Yoosun Koh is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Francisco Police Department. This case is part of the Federal Initiative for the Tenderloin, a multi-agency effort spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office focusing on fighting crime in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.