A New York drug dealer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling The Wire actor Michael K. Williams the fentanyl-laced heroin that killed him.
Irvin Cartagena, 40, of Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty in April to abetting Williams’ September 2020 overdose after the actor was found dead in his apartment in Brooklyn had been found.
Before his sentence was announced, Cartagena said he “greatly regrets” his actions, adding, “When we were selling the drugs, we never intended for anyone to lose their life.”
Cartegena’s conviction comes a month after his gangmate Carlos Macci was sentenced to 30 months in prison, despite the Wire’s co-creator asking the judge for leniency in his case. Two other accomplices, Luiz Cruz and Hector Robles, have also pleaded guilty.
From 2002 to 2008, Williams played the famous role of Omar Little, a rogue drug dealer robber, on the HBO hit series The Wire. In addition to his work on the critically acclaimed drama, Williams has also acted in films and other TV series such as Boardwalk Empire.
Irvin Cartagena (pictured) has been named as the man who sold Williams the deadly drugs. He has reportedly been arrested at least twice before for selling illegal drugs
Michael K. Williams died in September 2021 after purchasing and ingesting fentanyl-laced heroin from a New York street vendor. He is best known for playing Omar Little on the HBO hit series The Wire from 2002 to 2008
Williams (left, dressed in black) was spotted buying drugs from Irvin Cartagena (in blue pants) on September 5, 2021, the day before he died of a fatal overdose of heroin with fentanyl
Williams’ death sparked a months-long investigation by a Brooklyn drug ring linked to the actor’s overdose. It turned out that Cartagena, known as “Green Eyes”, was the leader.
Before his conviction on Friday, Cartagena faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and could have faced up to 40 years in prison.
US District Judge Ronnie Abrams noted that those who knew Cartagena said he was “helpful, humble and hardworking” when not a drug user himself.
“I hope the treatment will help you move down a more productive and law-abiding path,” the judge said.
Despite his protestations that he was “sorry” about Williams’ death, prosecutors said Cartagena and others continued to sell fentanyl-laced heroin in Manhattan and Brooklyn after Williams’ death, although Cartagena eventually fled to Puerto Rico, where he was killed in February 2022 was arrested .
In a statement, US Attorney Damian Williams also noted that those involved in selling the drugs to Williams already knew someone else had died from the drugs they were selling.
In a defense statement ahead of the sentencing hearing, Cartagena’s attorney Sean Maher said his client was paid to sell heroin on the street to fund his own use.
“In a tragic moment, it was Mr. Cartagena who handed the small packet of drugs to Mr. Williams – it could easily have been any other man who was there or nearby selling the same drugs,” Maher wrote.
“Sentencing Mr. Cartagena to double-digit prison terms will not bring back the good life that was lost.”
Cartagena, known in Brooklyn as the “Green Eyes,” was determined to be the leader of a drug ring that sold Williams the deadly cocktail
In addition to his work on the critically acclaimed drama The Wire, Williams has also acted in films and other television series such as Boardwalk Empire
A coroner is seen outside Williams’ apartment complex in September 2021
Prosecutors alleged that since August 2020, Cartagena has been the leader of a drug trafficking organization operating in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Their ring was primarily focused on fentanyl and heroin-spiked fentanyl as they sold the drugs outside their apartment, where Cartagena, known as “Green Eyes,” met with Williams to allegedly sell him the drugs.
CCTV captured the moment Cartagena handed Williams the drugs a day before the actor’s death.
Just before handing Cartagena a wad of cash, the actor can be seen then counting the bills before reaching into a paper bag stashed in a blue recycling bin outside the apartment.
The actor was found unconscious and face down in the living room of his Williamsburg apartment by his nephew the next day. He was pronounced dead by paramedics who rushed to the scene.
The star’s death was initially thought to be an accident, but investigations later revealed Cartagena’s gang was responsible. Announcing the gang’s arrests, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said he was proud and stressed the importance of ending America’s opioid crisis.
“This is a public health crisis.” And it has to stop,” he said.
“Deadly opioids like fentanyl and heroin don’t care who you are or what you’ve accomplished.”
“They only fuel addiction and lead to tragedy.” The Southern District of New York and our law enforcement partners will not give up.
“We will use every means possible.” And we will continue to hold accountable the dealers who spread this poison, exploit addiction and cause senseless death.”
Wire co-creator David Simon (centre) said Williams (left) accepted responsibility for his death from an overdose when last month he pleaded for leniency in the sentencing of another man, Carlos Macci, 71, linked to the death related
While Cartagena was determined to be the gang’s leader, 71-year-old Carlos Macci was defended by The Wire co-creator David Simon before being sentenced to 30 months in prison in July.
Simon called the actor’s death in September 2021 a “grave tragedy,” but in a letter to the federal district court in New York, he pleaded not to further punish Macci for the tragedy.
He demanded that Macci, who remained behind bars pending his conviction, be served a prison sentence as he described the elderly dealer as a vulnerable and semi-literate man who had battled drug addiction himself.
Simon also said Williams ultimately took responsibility for his death from a fentanyl overdose rather than blaming the dealer who sold him the substance.
“Nothing good can come of locking up a 71-year-old man who is largely illiterate and has struggled with addiction himself,” the letter reads New York Times.