Drug Dealer Pleads Guilty
Michael K. Williams, who gained fame for his role as Omar Little on The Wire, died in September of an accidental drug overdose. It was later determined that he had overdosed on a combination of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl and heroin.
A man who sold the deadly fentanyl-laced heroin that took the life of The Wire star has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role. He is accused of distributing the drug “in broad daylight in New York City, feeding addiction and causing tragedy,” according to a statement by United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams.
On Wednesday, 39-year-old Irvin Cartagena pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogue in front of a district judge. He faces a sentence of five to 40 years in prison.
Two other men, Luiz Cruz and Hector Robles, are also charged in the case with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin. They face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, the Justice Department said.
Investigators uncovered the sale of the drug in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, on Sept. 5, 2021, and tracked Williams’s movements in the hours before his death using data from his cellphone and license plate readers. A security camera recorded the drug deal, prosecutors say.
The actor’s nephew found him unconscious and face-down in his apartment the next day, according to prosecutors. The medical examiner’s office ruled the overdose an accident, but Williams’ family has since said the star was killed by drugs.
Three other members of the drug trafficking crew that supplied Williams with fentanyl-laced heroin were arrested Tuesday in Manhattan. The four were arrested during a months-long sting operation, in which a paid NYPD informant made controlled buys on the block where Williams bought the laced heroin, authorities said.
Prosecutors allege that the four men are part of a criminal organization that was running a drug trafficking business, selling laced drugs in Brooklyn and Manhattan. They continued to sell the product despite knowing that Williams died after buying it from them, the complaints allege.
In the end, Cartagena pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed that some of the drugs he sold resulted in Williams’ death as part of a plea deal. He is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years behind bars, the DOJ said.
Williams, a longtime CUNY student and the father of three, had been open about his struggle with substance abuse. He had been under medical supervision for a number of years and was struggling to beat an addiction to cocaine.
The actor died of an overdose in his penthouse apartment on September 6. He was found by his nephew unconscious and unresponsive the next day, according to prosecutors. A fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, and heroin mixture was found in his apartment when police responded to the call. The narcotics and paraphernalia were on a table, the complaint alleges. The NYPD rushed to the scene, but Williams was unresponsive and had no pulse.