U.S. District Court

Federal drug cases dismissed in wake of SFPD misconduct probe

Federal prosecutors have moved to dismiss an indictment against two East Bay residents, just days before they were due to stand trial on charges of trafficking fentanyl into San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.  

Olvin Isaac Gutierrez-Nunez, 24, and Marvin Alexander Rodriguez Flores, 27, were accused of commuting from Oakland to sell illegal narcotics. Large quantities of drugs, cash, and a rifle were found during a home search.  

The case was overshadowed by the involvement of an SFPD narcotics officer who is facing misconduct charges over allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant. Christina Hayes helped conduct searches in the case.

It emerged two weeks ago that the Government’s understanding had been that the defendants would ultimately plead guilty in some form but, when the Hayes controversy emerged, they immediately moved to invoke their right to a speedy trial.  

“This case is a hot mess in my opinion,” said U.S. District Judge Susan Illston at a July 25 preparatory hearing ahead of the trial. Prosecution and defense attorneys argued over whether Hayes could be called to testify and, if so, whether she could be questioned about her alleged misconduct. The court was told that Hayes’ phone had been handed over to the defense for them to analyze.  

This is the latest case to be affected by the Hayes issue, with several already having been discontinued by state and federal authorities.

Jury selection was due to begin on August 14 at San Francisco Federal Courthouse.

In an earlier mo­tion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Irvin had asked the court to for­bid de­fense at­tor­neys from ques­tion­ing SFPD Of­fi­cer Hayes about any as­pect of her al­leged mis­con­duct. Al­low­ing ques­tion­ing about her purported re­la­tion­ship with an informant would be “im­proper” and “highly in­flam­ma­tory,” they said.

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 – “ironically” – a drug court com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cate is­sued to him by San Fran­cisco Com­mu­nity Jus­tice Cen­ter. 

Police say the rifle yielded DNA which showed very strong sup­port it was his.

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.

Officer Hayes trans­ported the ev­i­dence col­lected from the en­tire search, ex­cept the ri­fle, back to San Fran­cisco and then con­ducted the analy­sis which iden­ti­fied the drugs.

The crim­i­nal com­plaint recorded 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 said 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.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston described the case as a “hot mess” at a preparatory hearing on July 25 at which attorney’s argued a slew of pre-trial motions on admissibility of witnesses and evidence.

She subsequently ruled that evidence of the rifle could be admitted with respect to Gutierrez-Nunez as could evidence of the drug transactions conducted by both defendants in the Tenderloin.

She decided to wait before determining if Hayes could testify until close to the beginning of the trial. The court heard that the Government had shared Hayes’ phone with the defense – the phone which, it said, was the original source of the evidence of her alleged misconduct.

The Gov­ern­ment had intended 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 would not have called Hayes to tes­tify.

Jury selection was set for August 14 and the trial was scheduled to last 5-7 days.

This is the latest case to be affected by the Hayes issue, with numerous cases being dropped by state and federal authorities.

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