NEW YORK -- Four men are facing charges for being part of the drug distribution team that provided a deadly mixture of narcotics and Michael K. Williams. This is the infamous actor from "The Wire," who succumbed to within hours of buying heroin laced with fentanyl in a deal that was recorded on security camera video.
Authorities said that Irvin Cartagena was the man who was caught on camera giving Williams drugs on a Brooklyn sidewalk. He was charged with directly causing his death.
The New York City Police Department investigated Williams' death, but federal prosecutors in Manhattan brought the charges. They revealed that the suspects were under surveillance long before Williams' overdose last September.
The sting bore a striking resemblance with the one featured on "The Wire," where Williams was famous for his portrayal of Omar Little.
A paid informant for the NYPD made controlled purchases of heroin in the same area where Williams bought his drugs for months. Court papers state that an undercover officer of the NYPD made one purchase just days before Williams received his fatal dose.
When Williams' body was discovered, Sept. 6, the drugs in his vials were labeled "AAA Insurance" just like the ones purchased by the officer.
One day after the actor's passing, the NYPD's informant returned to purchase more drugs from the same company. He recorded a conversation where some crew members discussed Williams' overdose. One of the informants denied selling drugs containing Fentanyl.
Cartagena, along with the other three men involved in the case, were taken into custody Tuesday. Three of the three men made their first appearance Wednesday at Manhattan federal court. Cartagena is due to appear in court Thursday in Puerto Rico where he was detained.
It wasn't immediately clear who would be his representative or who could make comments on his behalf.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced the charges along with Keechant Sewell, New York City Police Commissioner. He called overdose deaths "public health crisis".
It must stop. Fentanyl and heroin, which are deadly opioids, don't care who you are or what your achievements. Williams 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."
Williams, 54, was found murdered in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment on Sept. 6. The medical examiner's declared Williams' death accidental.
Police used data from Williams' mobile phone and plate readers to piece together Williams' movements hours before his death.
Police said that the deal was captured by a security camera located on the block.
According to the complaint, Williams spoke with the group and one of them placed his hand on the actor’s shoulder as a gesture of recognition. According to court papers, Cartagena then went around a row trash cans and retrieved a plastic bag that he handed to the actor.
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 all charged. 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 upon real-life figures. 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.