A man accused of dealing large quantities of fentanyl in the Tenderloin – and using a wheelchair-bound senior to hold his drugs – was granted pre-trial release this morning in federal court despite already being on pre-trial release for another drug dealing offense in state court when he picked up his latest arrest, and over the objections of prosecutors who labelled him “a danger to the community.”
Selvin Alvarez was originally arrested for drug dealing near the junction of Hyde Street and Ellis Street on February 5, 2023 having been spotted by a concealed SFPD officer using high-powered binoculars to view the narcotics transactions.
Alvarez would retrieve drugs from a bag attached to the wheelchair of a 60 year old man. On arrest, police found 44 bags of ‘rainbow’ fentanyl, six bags of cocaine base, two bags of cocaine salt, a bag of heroin plus alprazolam and oxycodone pills.
Alvarez told police that “he lives in Oakland and takes BART into San Francisco to sell drugs”. He said he worked selling narcotics for about two hours each day.
He subsequently appeared in San Francisco Superior Court where he was granted pre-trial release and allowed to enter a diversion program. Barely a month later he was selling more fentanyl – this time to undercover police working for a joint SFPD-Drug Enforcement Administration task force – on March 22, 2023 and April 4, 2023.
Federal prosecutors then took over – filing a complaint that Alvarez “knowingly and/or intentionally distributing a Schedule I or II controlled substance.”
In all, across his three most recent arrests, police recovered 1,335,000 milligrams of fentanyl which, prosecutors say, represents around 677,500 “potentially lethal” doses.
At the time of Alvarez’ February arrest, police discovered he also had an outstanding warrant for his detention arising from a prior drug dealing arrest in 2020.
The court was told that the defendant has a track records of selling illegal narcotics – having been found guilty in 2010 of “transporting or selling controlled substances”.
“Given defendant’s continued drug dealing while on pretrial release from the state court he will continue trafficking fentanyl if he is not detained,” prosecutors told the court in a motion to detain.
“[Alvarez] cannot rebut the presumption that no condition or combination of conditions as to defendant will reasonably assure the safety of the community.”
They also added that he was a flight risk, pointing out that he faces a sentence of 70-87 months in prison, including a five-year mandatory minimum, which incentivises him to flee.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim today ordered Alvarez released on a $50,000 bond.
He is due to next appear in court on July 12.
The case continues.
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