4 arrested in connection with overdose death of actor Michael K. Williams


Four people have been arrested in connection with the overdose death of actor Michael K. Williams, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said in a press release Wednesday. Williams died last year at the age of 54.

Irvin Cartagena, 39; Hector Robles, 57; Luiz Cruz, 56; and Carlos Macci, 70, were “each charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin,” which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Cartagena was also charged with causing Williams’ death in connection with the alleged conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Cartagena was arrested in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, and will appear in federal court there on Thursday. The three other defendants were arrested in Manhattan on the same day, and are scheduled to appear in the city’s federal court on Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Michael K. Williams attends the BET Awards 2021 at Microsoft Theater on June 27, 2021, in Los Angeles, California.  / Credit: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic via Getty

Authorities identified a drug trafficking organization that had been operating in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn since August 2020. The U.S. attorney’s office alleges that the organization sells “heroin laced with fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue” on the street and in an apartment building.

That organization allegedly sold Williams drugs the day before he overdosed, with Cartagena allegedly executing the transaction. The interaction was caught on surveillance video, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Williams, an Emmy-nominated actor best known for his role in “The Wire,” was found dead at his Brooklyn home on September 6. He was wearing the same clothes seen in the surveillance video from the day before, charging documents said. The Medical Examiner found he accidentally died of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine,” and the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges he used the fentanyl-laced heroin purchased from the Brooklyn-based drug organization.

A photo of the alleged drug deal captured on surveillance footage.  / Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the four defendants continued to sell the drugs in Brooklyn and Manhattan after Williams’ death.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called drug overdoses a “public health crisis” and vowed to bring those involved to justice.

“Deadly opioids like fentanyl and heroin don’t care about who you are or what you’ve accomplished,” he said. “They just feed addiction and lead to tragedy.”

Williams, who was well-known for playing Omar Little in “The Wire,” had told NPR in 2016 that he often struggled with separating himself from Little’s character while filming and that Little’s struggle “was a little too close to home.” He also told the outlet that he battled with addiction while filming the show, noting that he was “in jeopardy of destroying everything I had worked so hard for.”

Victoria Albert contributed reporting.

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