NEW YORK — Four men are facing charges that they were part of the drug distribution team that provided a deadly mixture of drugs to Michael K. Williams. This is the infamous actor from “The Wire,” who succumbed to within hours of buying heroin laced with fentanyl in a sidewalk sale that was captured on surveillance video.
They were all arrested Tuesday for distributing heroin laced with fentanyl, the same kind that killed Williams. Williams gained notoriety on HBO’s Omar Little. The HBO series portrayed drug crews similar to the one the four accused are from.
Three of the three defendants are charged with belonging to the crew who sold Williams the drugs. They made their first appearances Wednesday at Manhattan federal court. Authorities said that Irvin Cartagena was another crew member who was accused of selling Williams drugs. He was also charged with causing Williams’ death.
His first court appearance is set for Thursday in Puerto Rico. It was not immediately known who would represent him, or who could speak on his behalf.
The news release by U.S. attorney Damian Williams and New York City police commissioner Keechant Sewell announced the arrests.
According to the U.S. Attorney, the crime and charges stemmed from a “public-health crisis.”
It must stop. Fentanyl and heroin, which are deadly opioids, don’t care who you are or what your achievements. The prosecutor stated that they only feed addiction and cause tragedy.”
Sewell stated that Brooklyn police detectives “lived the case, never letting up in their investigation until they could bring some justice to Michael K. Williams’ family.”
The medical examiner of New York City had earlier determined that Williams, 54 years old, died from acute drug intoxication on Sept. 6. Williams was found dead in his penthouse apartment by his relatives. The medical examiner ruled Williams’ death accidental.
According to court papers, Williams’ death was caused by drugs that were sold by DTO, a drug trafficking organisation that operates in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg area since at least August 2020.
Authorities say that members of the group sold heroin with fentanyl to the actor Sept. 5, according to a criminal complaint. Williams was handed the drug by Cartagena in a transaction caught on surveillance video nearby, screen shots of which were released earlier by authorities.
According to the complaint, the video showed Williams meeting Cartagena and other people one block away from his apartment on the day that his body was discovered.
According to the complaint, Williams spoke with the group and one of them placed his hand on Williams’ shoulder to prove he recognized him. According to court papers, Williams appeared to be speaking with Cartagena. He then walked through a row trash cans and pulled out a plastic bag that he was going to give to Williams.
Authorities said that the men sold heroin laced with fentanyl in broad daylight in Manhattan and Brooklyn, even though they knew Williams had died from one their products.
Hector Robles (57), Luis Cruz (56), and Carlos Macci (70) were the other defendants. All of Brooklyn. Their lawyers didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment. It was not clear if they were the men in the surveillance video.
All three were detained upon their initial court appearances.
All four conspiracy charges against Cartagena carry mandatory minimums of five years and maximum sentences of 40 years. Cartagena is charged with causing actor’s death. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of life.
According to a federal complaint, Cartagena was arrested on February 20, 2021 for state drug charges in Brooklyn. He had sold four small waxy paper bags to an investigator. He was currently on pretrial release following an August 2020 gun arrest.
The complaint stated that he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in both of the crimes on Aug. 26 and was sentenced for time served.
Williams’ Omar Little, the “stick-up” boy on “The Wire”, a fictionalized look into Baltimore’s underpinnings that ended in 2008 but is still available in streaming, was based on real-life characters. He was also a classic character in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” as Chalky White, and he appeared in “12 Years a Slave,” and “Assassin’s Creed.”
In interviews, he spoke openly about his addiction experiences.