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The man who provided Mac Miller with counterfeit oxycodone pills prior to the rapper’s fatal overdose has agreed to plead guilty to distribution of fentanyl.
Stephen Andrew Walter—one of three men charged in connection with Miller’s death—agreed to a plea deal Monday, according to court documents filed in federal court in the Central District of California. Miller died in Los Angeles in September 2018; his toxicology results revealed fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol in his system. He was 26 at the time.
According to the court documents, Miller had ordered 10 oxycodone pills from Cameron James Pettit, who was delivered them by Ryan Michael Reavis. Reavis got the drugs from Walter, court documents say. Both Pettit and Reavis have also been charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances resulting in death and distribution of fentanyl resulting in death.
“[Mac Miller]would not have died from an overdose but for the fentanyl contained in the pills that [he] had received from Pettit on September 4, 2018,” the court documents said.
As VICE News previously reported, prosecutions of dealers, as well as friends and family members of people who’ve died of overdoses after sharing drugs, appear to be increasing, but there’s no evidence the strategy is curbing deaths
In fact, using overdoses to support homicide charges could deter people from seeking medical assistance if someone around them is dying, according to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance. These types of prosecutions can also target low-level dealers, who may have problematic substance use themselves.
Walter will formally enter the guilty plea on Nov. 8 and is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison. As part of the deal, a second charge against Walter of conspiring to distribute controlled substances resulting in death will be dropped.
The development in the case comes as the U.S. is facing an unprecedented drug poisoning crisis. Last year, 93,000 Americans died of fatal overdoses—the worst year on record; more than 60 percent of which were linked to fentanyl. In September, The Wire actor Michael K. Williams died of an overdose on heroin, fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, and cocaine.
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently issued a public safety alert warning about a flood of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl that are disguised to look like popular pharmaceuticals like Xanax, Percocets, and Vicodin.
Drug policy experts say harm reduction efforts, including safe injection/consumption sites and access to naloxone, drug testing, and a safe supply of uncontaminated drugs are what’s needed to combat the crisis.
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