A Honduran national with “few ties to the Bay Area” pleaded guilty this morning in federal court to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and cocaine.
Isaia Artiaga-Cruz, 19, was originally arrested in August 2022 in possession of nearly a pound of fentanyl, smaller amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine, and a loaded ‘ghost gun’.
Having secured bail in state court in San Francisco, he then returned to the city’s United Nations Plaza, where he was forbidden to be, and was arrested again by police in October 2022. On being detained he was found in possession of nearly two thousand dollars in cash. Federal authorities then moved to prosecute him.
U.S. District Judge Trina Thompson, accepting the plea, referred the case to U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services officials for a pre-sentence report.
Artiaga-Cruz remains in custody ahead of sentencing on October 20, 2023 at 10:00am.
On August 18 2022 officers from San Francisco Police Department’s narcotics division were conducting a “buy/bust” operation in the city’s United Nations Plaza.
The defendant sold crack cocaine to an undercover police officer and was subsequently arrested. In his backpack was found a loaded Polymer 80 9mm pistol (a ‘ghost gun’), nearly a pound of fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine, and $642 cash.
Artiaga-Cruz was subsequently released on bail by San Francisco Superior Court and was seen again at United Nations Plaza on October 4 2022. A “stay away” order forbade him to be there.
Police arrested him again after a foot chase through the Tenderloin during which, prosecutors say, one of the pursuing officers collided with a member of the public. Artiage-Cruz had $1,949 on his person.
He was then ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson.
Prosecutors say that the defendant was born in Honduras and has lived with a friend in San Francisco for a year. Before that he lived in Hayward for a year. His sister lives in Oakland, while his father and other family members live in Honduras.
This morning before U.S. District Judge Trina Thompson, Artiaga-Cruz pleaded guilty to:
- one count of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment and a maximum term of 40 years.
- one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
The court heard that there was no agreement between the parties as to whether the defendant was “safety valve-eligible.” The “safety valve” provision in federal sentencing law requires judges to ignore mandatory minimum sentences in cases of certain nonviolent drug crimes.
That matter will be addressed in a pre-sentence report which the court ordered probation officials to prepare ahead of sentencing scheduled for October 20 at 10:00am.
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