As an alleged drug kingpin who escaped from San Francisco County Jail remains on the loose after his partially-clothed escape Monday night, the questions are mounting on just how this could happen. Chief among them: why did the SF Sheriff's department allow a dangerous, federally indicted narcotics trafficker who was facing a lengthy sentence in an unsecured area?
As you might recall, 26-year-old Alexander Santiago-Gonzalez escaped from the jail at the Hall of Justice (850 Bryant Street) at around 8:45 Monday night when he ran from his deputy escort as Santiago-Gonzalez took out the trash.
He reportedly tore off his orange jail duds and escaped only in his boxer shorts, headed toward Harrison Street. He was not cuffed at the time of his escape.
But Santiago-Gonzales was no ordinary criminal (if there can be such a thing): according to Mario Sulay, an inspector with the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office who spoke with ABC7, Santiago-Gonzalez was nabbed in Santa Cruz County last May by a multi-agency task force that "confiscated from his home an arsenal of weapons and large quantities of black tar heroin."
"Fourteen firearms, three of which were assault type rifles, he had hundreds of rounds of ammunition for the weapons, he had two sets of body armor plus the amount of drugs he was trafficking in the county," Sulay said.
This KSBW report from the time of his arrest details the magnitude of the allegations against Santiago-Gonzalez:
And Ex reporter Chris Roberts tweeted a rundown of the guns Santiago-Gonzalez allegedly possessed:
the alleged meth trafficker who escaped from SF County Jail last night is also a bit of a firearms enthusiast pic.twitter.com/QJv4jemT7N— chris roberts (@cbloggy) March 25, 2015
According to one of Santiago-Gonzalez's attorneys who spoke with the Chron, he was "set to decide next month whether to accept a plea bargain with federal prosecutors that called for substantial prison time."
So, how did this guy, who was obviously a major player in the drug trade, end up doing chores outside a County Jail cell? That is an excellent question, and one that the Sheriff's Department can't answer.
According to Sheriff's Department spokesperson Kathy Gorwood, inmates that pass a screening process are assigned chores including cleaning housing units, working in the jail kitchen, and taking out the trash. So how did Santiago-Gonzalez, an alleged upper-level drug dealer pass this screening? That remains unclear.
"Candidly, I would have to say that it is questionable as to how he might have been classified as an outside worker, if he in fact was," Undersheriff Federico Rocha told ABC7.
"Again, the internal investigation will determine whether or not he was."
“What we’re looking at is were the protocols ignored, forgotten, missed or insufficient,” Rocha told the Chron. Yeah, or...something.
In addition, Gorwood was unable to say how long the deputy who lost Santiago-Gonzalez had been with the department, or if he had been following general jail protocol at the time of the escape. Instead, she repeated Rocha's assertions that an internal investigation is underway.
Meanwhile, if you spot Santiago-Gonzalez (who is surely still in SF! That was sarcasm.) please don't approach him. Didn't you read the stuff above about him and guns? Instead, please call 911 or 415-734-3111.