Michael K. Williams was the September actor. He is best-known for his delicate portrayals on T.V. of gangsters. dramas like The Wire Night OfHe died. He died from an overdose with heroin laced with Fentanyl. This synthetic opioid is much more powerful than the heroin. Four men were charged by federal prosecutors with selling Williams that fatal mixture earlier this week. Irvin Green Eyes Cartagena, the man responsible for making the sale, was charged as well with leading to Williams’s death. Although Williams’s death was tragically ascribed to him, prosecutors will not be able to throw the book at the dealers.
The arrests were reported by news media on Wednesday. The Daily Beast A detailed account of the operation that resulted in the arrests was published. Interviews with police who recollect the movements of Michael K. Williams during his last hours are a major part of this article. The Deputy Chief John Chell recalls telling the investigators to treat this case as though Michael K. Williams were hit with a bullet. Believe he was shot.
After determining the source and location of Williams’ purchase, officers reached a conclusion:
For the state to bring a case against Williams and his crew, they would have to show that Williams knew that Williams received a fatal dose. Federal law requires that only the evidence of death is provided by the dealer. The detectives then went to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. They had previously successfully prosecuted many such cases.
The lower standard of proof was combined with a mandatory minimum sentence for 20 years imprisonment for “selling narcotics which result in death”, police were able successfully to make the arrests. According to the article, Detective Ramon Rodriguez (one of the police investigators) regrets that he arrested Cartagena in connection with dealing one month prior to Williams’ death.[t]To see him pass through the entire system and get out right away.
It is not clear if this arrest will result in future drug dealers being disincentivised. Black market operators have never reacted to increased penalties for selling illicit drugs. They simply passed the extra costs onto the customer. In fact, higher penalties can even encourage riskier behavior:Traffickers can coerce or trick innocent people to act as mules for them in countries like Indonesia where death is the punishment for trafficking. Exortion can be seen as another expense in a business model that rewards huge profits and risks death.
Also, it is often the case that law intended to curb dealers and traffickers can be applied to addicts or users. One woman, who was convicted of distributing heroin which killed another person in 2019, received 21 years imprisonment. Although the conviction was overturned within two years of being issued, there were still prospects for a retrial. Prosecutors are increasingly applying the statutes to drug addicts when another person dies. This applies regardless of whether the victim was aware that drugs had been tainted.
It is ironic that federal authorities are pursuing criminal charges against heroin-laced with Fentanyl. However, this is due to the War on Drugs. Patients sought other remedies after the crackdown on painkillers was lifted. Drug bans encourage dealers to trade in drugs of greater potency. Of course, the whole enterprise must be done underground. This makes it impossible for users to know if what they’re buying is safe. As Prohibition was before it, so too is the War on Drugs.
Williams, ironically, was one of the few people who could see this reverse dichotomy. In 2016, Williams penned an op-ed for CNN in which he characterized the War on Drugs as “a war on people,” with “devastating…effects” especially on “black and brown Americans.” Williams stated that despite his struggle with addiction all of his life, he considers himself lucky because he was able to receive the treatment and help he needed. His admission was that he understood that “no one’s life is safer, more productive or better than mine if I were jailed because of my addiction.”
Williams’ tragic death is a tragedy. A truly gifted performer, Williams was honest about his difficulties and succumbed. If, as it is alleged that the dealers knew Williams’ mix had been tainted before they sold it, criminal negligence charges could be brought against them. By imposing a long federal sentence that can last decades, the police not only fail to deal with the real causes of these tragedies, but they actively create the conditions for them to happen.