Several “drug crew” members have been arrested for allegedly being responsible for the deadly batch of fentanyl-laced heroin that killed actor Michael K. Williams.
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the NYPD announced that they arrested four men, including one who they allege sold the drugs to Williams, who was found dead in September after overdosing on the drugs. The criminal complaint claims to have video proof of a hand-to-hand drug transaction that allegedly included the fatal batch of heroin.
“Today, along with our law enforcement partners at the NYPD, we announce the arrests of members of a drug crew, including Irvin Cartagena, the man who we allege sold the deadly dose of drugs to Michael K. Williams,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that was accompanied by still shots from video footage allegedly showing Williams buying the drugs.
Cartagena, the apparent ringleader who reportedly goes by the name “Green Eyes,” is charged with knowingly causing Williams death via the drugs he is accused of selling as part of a narcotics conspiracy. He was arrested in Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Hector Robles, Luis Cruz and Carlos Macci were named as co-conspirators with Cartagena.
All four men were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin. Those charges carry a prison sentence of up to 40 years. Cartagena is facing life in prison for his alleged crime of causing Williams’ death.
The criminal complaint alleges that the four men have been part of a Brooklyn-based “drug trafficking organization” called DTO since at least 2020.
“The DTO sells heroin laced with fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue on the street in front of, and from an apartment inside of, the apartment building located at 224 South 3rd Street, among other places,” the criminal complaint says in part. “On or about September 5, 2021, members of the DTO sold Michael K. Williams heroin, which was laced with fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue, with CARTAGENA executing the hand-to-hand transaction, as shown in the below screenshots from surveillance video.”
While fans of Williams were likely welcoming the arrests, a leading group working to end the war on drugs said prosecuting the suspects is counterproductive. Not only do such arrests “[i]ncrease the likelihood that people will not call for help when someone is experiencing an overdose, out of fear of prosecution,” but they also “[i]ncrease mandatory minimums and extreme sentencing for fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances,” the Drug Policy Alliance said in a press released emailed to NewsOne following the announcement of the arrests.
Instead, the group said, a viable alternative is to invest in products “that can test for the presence of fentanyl or fentanyl-related substances in drugs.”
Williams was found dead on Sept. 6 in his Brooklyn apartment with what authorities described as a bag of heroin on a table nearby.
The cause of Williams’ death was confirmed later that month by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office.
The Drug Enforcement Administration defines fentanyl as “a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine.
Williams’ death came days after the overdose death of Fruquan Johnson, a Los Angeles-based comedian who died after using cocaine that was laced with fentanyl.
Fentanyl is also the drug attributed to the death of superstar singer Prince, who died in 2016 after high levels of the powerful opioid were found in his system.
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.