In what might be the San Francisco Police Department’s largest “club-drug” bust in history, 23 kilograms of powder MDMA and 30,000 pills of the same drug were seized last weekend when officers responded to a burglary report in the Bernal Heights area.
The street value of the Ecstasy was estimated at $1.5 million.
An intriguing aspect of the case is how easily the discovery could have never happened.
“Sometimes you get lucky,” Police Chief Suhr said Tuesday, “and in this instance we were lucky.”
Officers initially responded to a report that someone was trying to break in to a building in the 3300 block of Mission Street about 9:15 a.m. Sunday.
Officers reportedly followed a fresh blood trail from the sidewalk to an apartment unit with a broken window. That unit was unoccupied, police said, but the blood trail continued to a second-floor apartment. There, 36-year-old Benjamin Hagerl, who reportedly had blood on both his hands and pants, answered the door.
But Hagerl — who Suhr described as highly intoxicated — then made a crucial mistake, telling the officers that he was the only person in the apartment.
The officers heard noises, however, and conducted a well-being check in the apartment, fearing there could be a victim inside, said Hector Sainez, commander of the SFPD’s investigations division.
Officers subsequently found 31-year-old Steven Terrell, who was wanted on an outstanding drug charges warrant. Also, they found bags of drugs in “plain view,” Sainez said.
Police fetched a search warrant and subsequently seized the drugs, $30,000 in cash, and cellphones and computers, Sainez said.
It was not clear where the drugs were headed, Suhr said.
“We’re very happy that none of this made its way out to the polo fields,” Suhr said of last weekend’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, adding that he hoped the bust wiped out The City’s Ecstasy supply “for a while.”
Hagerl and Terrell were booked on various drug charges. Terrell’s outstanding warrant was out of Illinois, where he allegedly possessed more than 5,000 grams of marijuana for sale.
“They both have dangerous drug priors in their criminal record,” Suhr said.
The case will be sent to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for review.
As police chief, Suhr has shifted the department’s focus from low-level drug busts to large crimes such as trafficking. But the chief credited Lady Luck for this bust.