Four Arrested in Overdose Death of ‘The Wire’ Actor Michael K. Williams

Four men face charges of being members of the drug distribution team that supplied a deadly mix of narcotics to Michael K. Williams, the renowned“The Wire” actor who overdoseda few hours after buying heroin laced with fentanyl. in a deal caught on security camera video.

The man seen on camera delivering the drugs to Williams on a Brooklyn sidewalk, Irvin Cartagena, was charged with directly causing the actor’s death, authorities said.

Williams’ death was investigated by the New York City police department, but charges were filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, who revealed the suspects had been under surveillance even before the actor’s fatal overdose last September.

It was a bite that bore a striking resemblance to the type depicted in "TheWire", where Williams rose to fame playing outlaw Omar Little.

For months, a paid informant working for the NYPD had been making controlled heroin purchases on the same block where Williams bought his drugs. An undercover police officer made a purchase just days before the actor took his fatal dose, according to court documents.

The drug vials found with Williams when his body was discovered on September 6 had the same label, "AAA insurance", than the jars bought by the officer.

The day after the actor’s death, the NYPD informant returned to buy more drugs from the same group, recording a conversation in which some members of the crew discussed Williams’ overdose. One denied having sold drugs containing fentanyl.

Cartagena and the other three men in the case were arrested Tuesday. Three made initial appearances Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. Cartagena’s initial court appearance is scheduled for Thursday in Puerto Rico, where he was arrested.

It was not immediately clear who would represent him or who could comment on his behalf.

US Attorney Damian Williams, who announced the charges alongside New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, called the overdose deaths a “public health crisis.”

"And this has to end. Deadly opioids like fentanyl and heroin don’t care who you are or what you’ve accomplished. They just feed the addiction and lead to tragedy,” Williams said.

Sewell said Brooklyn police detectives “lived through this case, never gave up their investigation until they were able to bring justice to Michael K. Williams and his family.”

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Williams, 54, was found dead in his Brooklyn attic on September 6. At that time, the medical examiner’s officeruled that Williams’ death was an accident.

Police reconstructed Williams’ movements in the hours before his death using data from his mobile phone and license plate readers.

A security camera on the block recorded the drug deal, police said.

Williams spoke to the group and one of the people placed his hand on the actor’s shoulder in an apparent gesture of acknowledgment, according to the complaint. Cartagena then walked around a row of trash cans, retrieved a plastic bag and handed it to the actor, according to court documents.

The men continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin in broad daylight in apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan even after learning that Williams had died from one of their products, authorities said.

The other defendants were identified as Hector Robles, 57, Luis Cruz, 56, and Carlos Macci, 70, all of Brooklyn. His attorneys did not immediately return messages seeking comment. It was not clear if they were the men seen in the surveillance video.

All three were ordered arrested at their initial court appearances.

The conspiracy charges against the four carry a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years. The charge against Cartagena that accuses him of causing the actor’s death carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.

Cartagena had been arrested in February 2021 on state drug charges in Brooklyn after selling four small wax paper bags to an undercover investigator, according to a federal complaint against him. At the time, he was on probation for an arrest on weapons charges in August 2020.

He pleaded guilty Aug. 26 to disorderly conduct on both counts and was sentenced to time served, the complaint reads.

The "thief boy" by Williams, Omar Little, in "TheWire", a fictionalized look at Baltimore’s fundamentals that ended in 2008 but remains popular on broadcast, was based on real-life figures. He created another classic character like Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire" on HBO and appeared in the films "12 Years a Slave" Y "Assassin’s Creed".

He had spoken candidly in interviews about his experiences with addiction.

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