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Michael K Williams: Four charged with drug conspiracy over death of The Wire actor

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Four men have been arrested and charged in relation to the death of The Wire actor Michael K Williams.

Williams, 54, was found dead by family members at his penthouse apartment in Brooklyn, New York, last September.

New York City’s medical examiner ruled he had died of acute drug intoxication.

Surveillance video allegedly showed Michael K Williams buying heroin from Irvin Cartagena on or around 5 September 2021. Pic: US Department of Justice
Image:
Surveillance video allegedly showed Michael K Williams buying heroin from Irvin Cartagena on or around 5 September 2021. Pic: US Department of Justice

US Attorney Damian Williams and New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell have said the four men were charged in Manhattan federal court over a narcotics conspiracy alleging the distribution of heroin laced with fentanyl, resulting in the actor’s death.

Williams, who had been nominated for multiple Emmy awards, was best known for playing the gun-carrying drug dealer Omar Little in the HBO crime drama.

All four suspects were arrested on Tuesday and were being held in custody, including one defendant who was arrested in Puerto Rico.

Court papers say Williams’ death on 6 September 2021 resulted from drugs sold by a drug trafficking organisation that has operated since at least August 2020 in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighbourhood.

Authorities said members of the organisation sold the actor heroin laced with fentanyl on 5 September last year.

Screenshots from surveillance video contained in the court papers included one in which defendant Irvin Cartagena can be seen executing the hand-to-hand transaction, authorities said.

Cartagena was arrested in Puerto Rico and charged with a narcotics conspiracy as he was accused of distributing fentanyl-laced heroin.

Surveillance video allegedly showed Michael K Williams buying heroin from Irvin Cartagena on or around 5 September 2021. Pic: US Department of Justice
Image:
Surveillance video allegedly showed Michael K Williams buying heroin from Irvin Cartagena on or around 5 September 2021. Pic: US Department of Justice

Hector Robles, Luis Cruz and Carlos Macci were charged as alleged participants in the conspiracy.

Officials also say the suspects continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin in broad daylight amid apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan even after learning that Williams had died from one of their products.

The US attorney said the crimes and charges were the result of a “public health crisis”.

The US Department of Justice alleges that surveillance footage from a convenience store helped them identify Irvin Cartagena on or around 5 September. Pic: US Department of Justice
Image:
The US Department of Justice alleges that surveillance footage from a convenience store helped them identify Irvin Cartagena on or around 5 September. Pic: US Department of Justice

“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,” the prosecutor said.

‘Treat this case as if Michael K Williams was hit by a bullet’

Ms Sewell said police detectives in Brooklyn “lived this case, never relenting in their investigation until they could bring a measure of justice to Michael K Williams and his family”.

Irvin Cartagena was arrested over the death of Michael K Williams. Pic: US Department of Justice
Image:
Irvin Cartagena was arrested over the death of Michael K Williams. Pic: US Department of Justice

Deputy Chief John Chell previously said he had instructed his detectives in north Brooklyn to treat the death as a homicide.

“Treat this case as if Michael K Williams was hit by a bullet,” Mr Chell told the Daily Beast he remembers telling the detectives.

“Make believe he got shot.”

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