This drug dealer’s fentanyl-laced heroin killed a man, cops say
Authorities have arrested an alleged Paterson drug dealer they say cut his heroin with fentanyl — a combination that killed a man in Warwick, N.Y. in October
Shawn Flemmings, 33, of Paterson, was arrested on a first-degree charge of strict liability for a drug-induced death, acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced Friday.
According to the AG's office, members of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office stopped him in a car in Paterson and arrested him without incident. He is being held in the Passaic County Jail with bail set at $100,000 full cash
The first-degree charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison.
Flemmings is charged in connection with the death of Stephen Ference, 27, of Warwick, N.Y., who was found dead inside his home on Oct. 17 as a result of an overdose, authorities say.
As previously reported by New Jersey 101.5, authorities say fentanyl-laced heroin is even more dangerous than heroin alone because it's massively more powerful than morphine, and heroin antidote Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is often ineffective.
“This case demonstrates our resolve to hold heroin dealers accountable for their conscienceless infliction of addiction, misery and death upon our communities,” Hoffman said in an announcement from his office. “New Jersey law enables us to hold drug dealers criminally responsible for the deaths they cause by sending them to prison for up to 20 years. Through our partnership with the New York Attorney General’s Office, we’re seeking justice for the family of the young man allegedly killed by this drug dealer’s heroin, as well as the many others who undoubtedly have suffered because of his poison.”
New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said all police in New Jersey were directed a year ago to investigate ODs for the possibility dealers could be charged under the strict liability law.
"Our efforts to make use of this important law even led to discussions with our task force partners in New York, who responded with this investigation. This is exactly the type of collaboration we need to tackle the epidemic of heroin abuse in our states," Honig said.
According to the AG's Office, Warwick police responded to Ference’s home Oct. 17 on an emergency call after he was found unresponsive. Ference was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel, it said. Officers found syringes and empty glassine envelopes on the bed next to the body and on the floor.
In total, police seized 23 single-dose glassine envelopes of heroin and four empty ones, all stamped “Ball Room” in black ink, the AG's office said.
The Orange County (N.Y.) Medical Examiner determined that Ference had opiates in his system and died of acute fentanyl intoxication.
In addition to the first-degree charge of strict liability for drug-induced death, Flemmings is charged with distribution of heroin.