Michael K Williams death: Drug dealer pleads guilty to providing actor with fentanyl-laced heroin


A man has pleaded guilty to providing actor Michael K Williams with fentanyl-laced heroin, which resulted in his death in 2021.

Irvin Cartagena, 39, sold the drugs in “broad daylight” in New York City, according to lawyer Damien Williams, who said he was “feeding addiction and causing tragedy”.

“In doing so, he dealt the fatal dose that killed Michael K Williams,” the lawyer added.

The Wire star was found dead at his home at the age of 54 after an overdose in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment.

Cartagena pleaded guilty and signed an agreement with prosecutors stipulating that the mix of heroin and fentanyl he sold to Williams resulted in his death.

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Prosecutors said Cartagena and his alleged co-conspirators continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin around residential apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan even after they learned of the actor’s death.

Cartagena’s plea to a charge of conspiring to distribute drugs was entered in Manhattan federal court.

His sentencing is set for 18 August, when Cartagena will face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and the possibility of as many as 40 years.

Another defendant in the case pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

‘A measure of justice’

Williams’s death came despite the New York Police Department launching an investigation which involved a paid informant making controlled heroin buys on the same block where the actor bought drugs.

The day after his death, the informant went back to buy more drugs from the same group and recorded a conversation in which some of them talked about Williams’s overdose.

One denied selling any drugs containing fentanyl.

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Last year, four men were charged in Manhattan federal court over a narcotics conspiracy, alleging the distribution of fentanyl-laced heroin.

Cartagena was arrested in Puerto Rico and charged with a narcotics conspiracy that same year.

At the time, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant 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”.

Who was Michael K Williams?

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Williams left school early to pursue a career as a dancer and worked with high-profile stars including Madonna and George Michael.

He later found himself acting alongside Tupac Shakur in the 1996 film Bullet.

Williams, an Emmy-nominated actor and producer, rose to prominence in 2002 through his critically acclaimed role as Omar Little in The Wire, which even caught the attention of former US President Barack Obama, who praised his work.

The star was also known for his role as Albert “Chalky” White on the hit series Broadwalk Empire from 2010 to 2014.

Soon after the actor’s death, tributes poured in from friends and colleagues in the world of entertainment – and in a statement, HBO, the network where Williams grew as an actor, said his death was an “immeasurable loss”.

It said: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael Kenneth Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years.

“While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work with him.

“We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss.”

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