Recent developments have been made regarding the unfortunate death of actor Michael Kenneth Williams, who passed away on September 6, 2021. An ongoing investigation has now resulted in the arrests of four prime suspects at the hands of prosecutors.
According to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Williams’ death was caused by an overdose of several drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and p-fluorofentanyl.
New video evidence from the U.S. Department of Justice, however, now shows the actor procuring the fentanyl-laced heroin from drug trafficker Irvin Cartagena – who was arrested on February 1, 2022 in Puerto Rico following Williams’ death. Security footage caught both of them in the vicinity of 224 South 3rd Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.
Cartagena is now being charged with the actor’s death, which if convicted, could range from a minimum of 20 years to life in prison. Three other drug crew members: Hector Robles, Luis Cruz, and Carlos Macci, are also being charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent of distribution of fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin. They could face a minimum of 5 to 40 years in prison if found guilty.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, commented on the arrests and overall progress of the case, saying, “We announce the arrests of members of a drug crew, including Irvin Cartagena, the man who we allege sold the deadly dose of drugs to Michael K. Williams. This is a public health crisis. And it needs to stop. Deadly opioids like fentanyl and heroin don’t care about who you are or what you’ve accomplished. They just feed addiction and lead to tragedy.”
Michael Kenneth Williams’ death continues to shock many longtime fans, including those from Queens College and the greater CUNY community. Better known as Omar Little from the hit HBO drama series The Wire, Williams’ acting career was far from over.
The Emmy nominated actor and producer had impressed viewers with his essence on screen. Queens College Sociology Professor Anna Bounds, spoke to The Knight News about Williams’ impact, saying, “I was so impressed by two things: his perseverance and talent.” Queens College student Azana Abai, who is currently majoring in Media Studies, also commented on the actor’s performance on The Wire, emphasizing that, “His performance was formidable and vital for the overall success of the show.”
Along with his acting background, Michael Kenneth Williams also dealt with drug use throughout his career as a form of escapism. In an interview with Men’s Health prior to his death, Williams had opened up about his addiction struggles, which had stemmed from childhood trauma.
The importance of mental health and processing one’s pain is a task that resonates with many Queens College students that continue to endeavor during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stress and anxiety that Williams experienced shows how, without receiving proper care and emotional support, one can turn to other means of coping that are far more damaging.
Queens College student Matthew Balgobin, who majors in Environmental Science, highlights this correlation, saying, “It helps me keep in mind how important it is to take care of yourself and prioritize our mental health and physical well being,” adding, “No matter how time consuming school or life can be, finding ways to help yourself stay healthy is important.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the national overdose deaths that involved heroin or other opioids in 2020 was almost 10,000 – an increase likely due as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even two years later, important aspects including mental health and wellness have suffered due to the circumstances we find ourselves in the world today.
While the investigation into the death of Michael Kenneth Williams’ continues to go underway, what’s certain is that Hollywood and fans alike lost a dedicated actor who was not afraid to open up about his own struggles.
If you feel like you are having a hard time coping with anxiety or stress, you can find help by contacting the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center located at Frese Hall. All services are confidential and free of charge.