michael k williams
Michael K. Williams attends the BET Awards 2021 at Microsoft Theater on June 27, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. AMY SUSSMAN/FILMMAGIC VIA GETTY
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By Brittany Wilson, Staff Writer

New York City police charged four Brooklyn residents with one count of narcotics conspiracy in connection with the death of the late Michael K. Williams. 

NYPD linked Irvin Cartagena, 39; Hector Robles, 57; Luis Cruz, 56; and Carlos Macci, 70, to a drug-trafficking crew that supplied a deadly mix of drugs. They allegedly continued to sell the deadly drugs well after knowing it had killed Williams. 

The hand-to hand exchange between Cartagena and Williams was captured on a Brooklyn neighborhood security camera on September 5, 2021, according to authorities. This footage directly linked Cartagena to causing the actor’s untimely death.

Michael K. Williams, 54, was found dead in his home on September 6, 2021. Medical examiners ruled the death was due to an overdose of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine. NYPD investigated Williams’ death. They revealed that the suspects had been under close watch months before the actor’s fatal overdose.

Surveillance footage showed Michael K Williams buying the drugs. Credit: Department of Justice

Communities struggling with drug abuse

Since the pandemic, drug use and overdose have spiked in the United States, contributing to declining mental health and isolation for many. A study conducted in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse found the opioid death rate among Black people increased by 38% in 2019. The rate continues to increase each year. Fentanyl continues to cause a large portion of overdose deaths in Black communities. Some people often lace the deadly drug with heroin. 

Before his death, Michael K. Williams openly discussed his struggle with addiction.

michael k williams overdose fentanyl
Michael K. Williams.
Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic/Getty Images

He said being in “a lot of pain” pushed him to start using drugs, due to “a lot of trauma early on that I didn’t have the proper tools to deal with.” He often reflected on “how fragile life is” and wanted to spread hope. 

All four men carry a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years for causing the death of Michael K. Williams. Meanwhile, Cartagena’s charge carries a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life.

Authorities arrested Irvin Cartagena in connection to the death of Michael K Williams. Credit: Department of Justice

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