Irvin Cartegena, drug dealer who sold fatal fentanyl-laced heroin to actor Michael K. Williams, sentenced to 10 years in prison

August 22, 2023
Ben Marquis

In September 2021, actor Michael K. Williams died unexpectedly in his New York City home after he overdosed on heroin that was found to have been laced with deadly fentanyl.

Now, nearly two years after his death, the illicit drug dealer who sold the fatal dose to Williams has been sentenced by a judge to serve 10 years in prison, the Daily Wire reported.

In addition, Irvin "Green Eyes" Cartagena, 40, of Puerto Rico, must also serve five years of supervised release once he gets out of prison, following his conviction for "conspiring to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogue."

Arrested in February 2022, pled guilty in April 2023

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Cartegena pleaded guilty to his crimes in April in regard to the overdose death of Williams.

He was arrested and charged in February 2022 when he was discovered to have fled to Puerto Rico following Williams' death.

"On September 5, 2021, Irvin Cartagena sold Michael K. Williams a fatal dose of heroin laced with fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue," U.S. Attorney Damien Williams said in a statement. "Michael K. Williams tragically lost his life after using the drugs sold to him by Cartagena."

"Although their product had already claimed one life, Cartagena and his co-conspirators continued to sell potentially lethal fentanyl-laced heroin," the prosecutor added. "This Office will tenaciously continue our enforcement efforts against unscrupulous drug dealers who distribute poison and exacerbate the scourge of the fentanyl epidemic."

According to NYC Health in a January 2023 press release, at least 2,668 people died of drug overdoses in the city in 2021, and noted that fentanyl, which is anywhere from 50-100 times stronger than morphine, "was detected in 80 percent of drug overdose deaths in New York City in 2021 and was the most common substance involved in overdose deaths for the fifth year in a row."

Convicted dealer apologized for selling fatal dose

USA Today reported that Williams was an actor who, despite appearing in numerous films and TV shows, was most famous for his role as Omar Little in HBO's hit series "The Wire," in which he portrayed a widely-feared stick-up artist who lived by a certain code of honor and only targeted drug dealer crews for robberies in gritty Baltimore, Maryland.

Unfortunately, Williams also battled drug addiction in real life and was caught by a surveillance camera purchasing heroin from Cartegena outside an apartment building in Brooklyn in September 2021. That heroin turned out to be laced with fentanyl, however, and Williams died just a few hours later in his own Brooklyn apartment.

At the sentencing hearing on Friday, where Cartegena faced anywhere from five to 40 years in prison, the convicted drug dealer apologized before the court and said, "I am very sorry for my actions." He added, "When we sold the drugs, we never intended for anyone to lose their life."

District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who had accepted Cartegena's guilty plea in April, said during the hearing, "This sentence, while severe, is sufficient but not greater than necessary."

Defense attorney sought lenient sentence

Cartegena's defense attorney, Sean Maher, sought leniency in a pre-sentencing filing by noting that his client was just one of several street-level dealers who was paid for his work with heroin for his own consumption.

"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," the lawyer wrote. "Sentencing Mr. Cartagena to double digits of prison time will not bring back the beautiful life that was lost."

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