Four men have been charged for their involvement in dealing drugs to The Wire actor Michael K. Williams, which ultimately led to his overdose death, a federal prosecutor told reporters Wednesday.
The four defendants were charged on Tuesday in New York for involvement in distributing the drugs. According to AP, authorities allege that the men continued to deal drugs in broad daylight even after Williams’ death.
Williams, 54, died from “acute drug intoxication” after taking fentanyl-laced heroin and suffering from an accidental overdose on Sept. 6, a medical examiner ruled. His family members found his body in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan named Puerto Rico resident Irvin Cartagena as the person who allegedly sold the drugs to the late actor. Three others were named as alleged co-conspirators: Hector Robles, Luis Cruz, and Carlos Macci.
Williams died after buying drugs supplied by an alleged drug trafficking organization in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, the Associated Press reported. Surveillance video was viewed by authorities, who noted a hand-to-hand drug transaction involving Cartagena on Sept. 5.
“As these federal charges show, the NYPD's narcotics and precinct detectives in Brooklyn North lived this case, never relenting in their investigation until they could bring a measure of justice to Michael K. Williams and his family,” New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said the charges have resulted from a “public health crisis” that “has to stop.”
Williams died amid a drug poisoning crisis across North America. The U.S. recorded 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020—the worst year on record. Nearly two-thirds of cases were linked to fentanyl, a drug 100 times stronger than morphine.
His death was stark proof that opioids have never been more dangerous than they are today, VICE News previously reported. The beloved actor had been open about drug use in the past, and had told the New York Times in 2017 that “addiction doesn't go away… It's an everyday struggle for me, but I'm fighting.”
While best known for his portrayal of stick-up man Omar Little on The Wire, Williams appeared in dozens of films and television shows, including the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, The Night Of and Lovecraft Country, and Community. He was also the host of VICE TV’s Black Market.
Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.