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Drug Lab Busted In San Francisco Hotel Turned Pandemic Shelter For Homeless
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 17: A glass pipe for smoking P found in a methamphetamine manufacturing lab following a police raid on January 17, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand Police discovered 75 similar labs across the country with 39 in Auckland in 2017. A dedicated Clandestine Laboratory response team investigates and dismantles drug related scenes weekly around NZ. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

San Francisco police arrested two people for allegedly building a narcotics lab in a hotel that has partnered with the city to quarantine coronavirus patients and house the homeless during the pandemic.

Police were called to the hotel on Saturday to investigate odd fumes coming from one of its rooms, according to KTVU. Law enforcement ordered residents and others staying at the hotel to evacuate while a hazmat team moved in to take down the low-level narcotics lab built in one of the hotel’s upper floor rooms.

Some have speculated that the lab was being used to produce meth, though investigators are still working to determine what drugs were being manufactured, police say.

“Officers conducted an investigation and discovered chemicals known to make narcotics, which were isolated to one guest room,” a San Francisco Police Department spokesperson told Fox News in a statement. “Two adults were arrested for narcotics-related charges, some of which are possession of controlled substances, possession of controlled substances for sales, manufacturing controlled substances, and conspiracy.”

The hotel has contracted with San Francisco as part of the city’s Shelter in Place program. The initiative pays for a room and meals for people who are under quarantine or at risk for COVID-19 and pays for homeless people to live in hotels amid the pandemic. It is unclear whether the two people arrested were part of the program, though they were residents at the hotel.

Still, some who live and work in the area raised questions about the program’s oversight after the incident.

“I would like for the government to have a bit more of a monitoring of the space,” one man who worked at a nearby business told KTVU. “I do see that a place like this can be abused to be used for those kinds of activities.”

“If you are housing people that are not there with a security deposit or anything that makes them liable, liability is key,” the man said.

The narcotics lab bust has moved the city of San Francisco, which has been criticized for keeping information about the controversial housing program secret, to update its guidelines about how the program is run.

According to NBC, the new rules for the program are:

Revised wellness checks

Room inspections

Emergency safety checks

Safe exit policy revisions

Training and oversight measures

Erica Sandberg, a host for the Bay Area news service KRON, slammed San Francisco’s housing program in a June 24 article for City Journal. Sandberg said that city officials have hidden information on who is taking advantage of the housing program, what kinds of people are moving into which neighborhoods, and what city funds are being spent on.

Sandberg writes in part:

City and hotel workers are required to sign nondisclosure agreements and are forbidden from discussing what they’re seeing. Per the Mayor’s Declaration of Emergency, speaking out can result in a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment with a maximum sentence of one year, or both.

Nevertheless, concerned inside sources report destroyed rooms and rampant illegal drug use. In one hotel, guests are given needle kits and are advised to call the front desk before shooting up; there have been four deaths in the last few days. Sharp containers have been placed on every floor; used syringes are discarded haphazardly. Badly needed mental-health help is not being administered. The entire operation is disorganized, with staff members constantly moved around, never knowing what they’ll do from one day to the next. One source asked to make it clear that as public servants they love the city and all its inhabitants, but the plan has left them deeply demoralized.

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