A major drugs trial, due to start next month in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, has become the latest criminal case to be affected by a misconduct probe into an SFPD narcotics officer.
Federal prosecutors say Olvin Isaac Gutierrez-Nunez and Marvin Alexander Rodriguez Flores commuted from Oakland to the Tenderloin each day to sell fentanyl and methamphetamine. Large quantities of drugs, cash, and a short-barrel rifle were uncovered during a home search.
In an eve-of-trial motion, they are pressing a judge to forbid defense attorneys from questioning SFPD Officer Christina Hayes about any aspect of her alleged misconduct. The fallout from her purported relationship with a confidential informant has already caused other cases in which she was involved to be dismissed. Allowing questioning about that relationship in this instance would be “improper” and “highly inflammatory” Government attorneys say.
Hayes involvement with this case included her conducting a search of Gutierrez-Nunez’ bedroom which turned-up five pounds of fentanyl, $7,709 cash, a high capacity magazine loaded with 24 rounds and a drug court completion certificate issued to him by San Francisco Community Justice Center.
She later transported the evidence collected from the entire search, except the rifle, back to San Francisco and then conducted the analysis which identified the drugs.
Earlier this month state drug cases against Nicol Palma were dismissed in San Francisco because of “an issue with an SFPD officer witness,” presumed to be Hayes.
Gutierrez-Nunez was detained and searched on October 13 2022 and found in possession of drugs and ammunition. A search of his residence uncovered an AR 15-style rifle hidden in fence slats that police say yielded DNA which showed very strong support the rifle belonged to him.
In a backpack found in the home officers found cash, fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine. Inside a dresser was Rodrigues Flores’ “bail bond paperwork,” more than $10,000 in cash and a Honduran passport in the name of another resident.
Elsewhere in the home, in Gutierrez-Nunez’ bedroom, the search uncovered five pounds of fentanyl, $7,709 cash, a high capacity magazine loaded with 24 rounds and – “ironically” – a drug court completion certificate issued to him by San Francisco Community Justice Center.
The criminal complaint records both defendants’ drug-dealing activities in the Tenderloin that had come to the attention of an SFPD-DEA task force.
Rodriguez Flores was caught near the intersection of Eddy and Larkin with fentanyl and cocaine on March 5 2022 while Nunez sold fentanyl to an undercover police officer on April 12 2022 near the same location. Nunez was also seen selling drugs on October 5, 2022.
Suspecting that the defendants were part of a bigger drug dealing operation, police did not initially arrest them.
The complaint says that analysis of cell site data demonstrated that Gutierrez-Nunez regularly commuted to the Tenderloin from a residence in Oakland, which was confirmed when officers trailed him driving from his home to the Tenderloin and saw him again sell drugs.
When traveling to and from the city Rodriguez Flores drove a silver Infiniti sedan, while Gutierrez-Nunez preferred to drive his gray BMW sedan.
Ahead of the trial – scheduled to begin on August 14 before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston – prosecutors have asked for rulings on various issues including, if Hayes is called to give evidence, a request to have her testimony confined to her “factual involvement involving the individuals and circumstances in this case alone.”
They are also requesting confirmation of the admissibility of the drugs evidence itself, the discovery of the rifle – a “ghost gun” – and evidence of the defendants’ dealing in the Tenderloin that led to the search being conducted.
The Government intends to call eight SFPD officers as witnesses along with three Drug Enforcement Administration officials and one criminalist apiece from SFPD and Alameda Sheriff’s Department. They themselves will not call SFPD Officer Hayes to testify.
Rodriguez Flores, 24, also known as Carlos Cruz Medina, faces one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Gutierrez-Nunez, 27, faces one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.
The case continues.
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