Drug dealer implicated in Michael K. Williams death is sent to prison

August 21, 2023
Robert Ayers

CBS News reports that a New York City drug dealer has been sentenced to prison in relation to the death of actor Michael K. Williams. 

The drug dealer is 40-year-old Irvin Cartagena of Aibonito, Puerto Rico.

What happened?

The incident that led to Wiliams' death took place in September 2021.

According to the authorities, Williams was caught on camera buying heroin from Cartagena on a sidewalk located in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

Williams ended up dying within hours of this exchange. His body was found in the Brooklyn apartment building where he was staying at the time.

It was subsequently discovered that the heroin that Cartagena sold to Williams was laced with fentanyl, and it was found that an overdose on this drug is what ultimately caused Williams' death.

According to the prosecution, this was not the first time that Cartagena sold fentanyl-laced heroin to someone. In fact, the prosecution says that Cartagena did so before and after the incident that led to Williams' death.

Arrest and conviction

Cartagena did not end up being arrested until February 2022. This is partly because, following Williams' death, he fled to Puerto Rico.

In April, Cartagena pled guilty to conspiring to distribute drugs. And, for this charge, he was facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, on Friday, decided upon a prison sentence of 10 years for Cartagena.

Judge Abrams, during the sentencing, suggested that Cartagena has good character traits, at least when he is not using drugs. Abrams referred to Cartagena as "helpful and humble and hard-working. Abrams also told Cartagena, "I'm hopeful that with treatment, . . . it will help you move forward on a more productive and law-abiding path."

Cartagena, for his part, said, "I am very sorry for my actions. When we sold the drugs, we never intended for anyone to lose their life."

Cartagena's defense attorney, in his sentencing argument, tried to claim that Cartagena was merely a middleman. He said:

In a tragic instant, Mr. Cartagena was the one who handed the small packet of drugs to Mr. Williams — it easily could have been any of the other men who were there or in the vicinity selling the same drugs. Sentencing Mr. Cartagena to double digits of prison time will not bring back the beautiful life that was lost.

Remembering Williams

Williams is particularly well-known for his role in HBO's The Wire. There, Williams portrayed Omar Little, a man who robbed drug dealers. The series lasted from 2002 to 2008.

Williams, though, also played roles in numerous other films and television series, including Boardwalk Empire. 

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