Four men have been charged in connection with the death of actor Michael K. Williams, who overdosed after taking heroin laced with fentanyl.
The Justice Department has accused Irvin Cartagena, 39, Hector Robles, 57, Luiz Cruz, 56, and Carlos Macci, 70, of all being part of the narcotics ring which allegedly supplied The Wire star with the drugs that killed him.
All four were charged with “conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin” which carries a minimum five-year sentence.
In addition, Cartagena was also charged with directly causing the actor’s death, after allegedly being the person who handed Williams the laced heroin that killed him. His charge, of “causing the death of Williams in connection with the narcotics conspiracy”, carries a minimum 20-year sentence and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Authorities arrested Cartagena in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. The three other men were arrested in New York the same day.
Images ‘show drug deal taking place’
Images from a surveillance video shared by the Department of Justice purport to show the transaction taking place. In the images, which are said to have been taken “on or about” September 5 last year, Williams appears to be wearing the same clothing as when his body was discovered on September 6.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY alleged in a statement, “Since at least in or about August 2020, a drug trafficking organization (the “DTO”) has been operating in the vicinity of 224 South 3rd Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
“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.”
“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.”
The group allegedly continued to sell drugs after the actor’s death.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams also discussed the nature of the arrests and opioid epidemic, stating, “This is a public health crisis. And it has to stop. Deadly opioids like fentanyl and heroin don’t care about who you are or what you’ve accomplished. They just feed addiction and lead to tragedy.”
He went on to vow that his office will continue to hold accountable dealers who “push poison” and “exploit addiction.”
Michael K. Williams’ cause of death
Michael K. Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on September 6 by family members. The 54-year-old Emmy-award-winning actor’s death was almost immediately reported as a suspected drug overdose.
The Medical Examiner later determined that he died of acute drug intoxication with fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin, and cocaine found in the actor’s system.
Williams played Omar Little on the HBO show The Wire, a series about race, police, crime, and the streets of Baltimore. Little, who famously robbed drug dealers, was one of the most popular characters on the show.
The Wire ran from 2002 to 2008 and achieved critical acclaim and commercial success. It frequently tops lists of the best TV shows of all time.