Men Who Had $1.5 Million Of MDMA In Their Apartment Plead Not Guilty To Drug Charges

Two suspects arrested Sunday in what San Francisco police called one of the biggest drug busts in the department’s history pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges in court today.

Benjamin Hagerl, 36, and Steven Terrell, 31, pleaded not guilty in San Francisco Superior Court this afternoon to six felony counts each, including possession of controlled substances for sale, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said.

The pair was found around 9:15 a.m. Sunday in an apartment in the 3300 block of Mission Street with more than $1.5 million worth of MDMA, otherwise known as Ecstasy or “molly,” police Chief Greg Suhr said at a news conference Tuesday.

Hagerl and Terrell were both ordered held by Judge Ronald Albers on $1 million bail and will return to court on Aug. 27 for a pre-hearing conference.

The arrests were made after officers responded to a report of possible vandalism and burglary at a building on Mission Street near 29th Street and found a first-floor window that was broken and stained with blood, police said.

A blood trail led into the building and police followed it to an apartment inside. That apartment was empty, but the blood trail continued to another apartment on the second floor, according to police.

Officers knocked on the door and a man with blood on his hands and pants—later identified as Hagerl—opened the door. He had apparently cut himself on the glass and was intoxicated, police said.

Police checked the apartment and found a second man, Terrell, inside along with more than 23 kilograms of MDMA powder and more than 30,000 pills of the drug, Suhr said. Police also seized nearly $30,000 in cash and computer equipment.

Terrell also has a separate drug trafficking case involving marijuana pending in Illinois, Suhr said.

The police chief pointed out that the MDMA was found on the same weekend as the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, but said investigators do not know whether the drug stash was meant to supply concertgoers.

Deputy Public Defender Prithika Balakrishnan argued that her client, Hagerl, should be released on reduced bail because has no prior felony criminal record and has a full-time job.

However, the judge ordered him held on the same $1 million amount as Terrell, who Assistant District Attorney Asha Jameson said was wanted on a $500,000 warrant for the out-of-state case.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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