'this is a public health crisis'
Four people have been arrested and charged in connection with the overdose death of actor Michael K. Williams.
Williams, best known for playing Omar on the HBO series The Wire, was found dead in his New York apartment in September after overdosing on fentanyl-laced heroin. On Wednesday, prosecutors announced they have arrested "members of a drug crew," including Irvin Cartagena, who allegedly sold Williams the drugs in September 2021. Three others, Hector Robles, Luis Cruz, and Carlos Macci, were also arrested as alleged co-conspirators.
"This is a public health crisis," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. "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. ... We will continue to hold accountable the dealers who push this poison, exploit addiction, and cause senseless death."
The four defendants are charged with "conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin," while Cartagena is also charged with causing Williams' death "in connection with the narcotics conspiracy," prosecutors said. They said the defendants "continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin, in broad daylight, amidst residential apartment buildings, in Brooklyn and Manhattan," despite knowing the drugs they sold caused Williams' death.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said she hoped the arrests would bring a "measure of justice to Michael K. Williams and his family." Williams' representative said in September his family was dealing with "deep sorrow" over "this insurmountable loss," and tributes quickly poured in from his fellow actors.
"Michael was a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human being, who has left us far too soon," Kerry Washington said at the 2021 Emmys. "Your excellence, your artistry, will endure. We love you."