Federal agents arrested a Jamaica man on Tuesday for allegedly selling the highly potent and potentially fatal drug fentanyl out of his home.
Prosecutors said that David Wickham, 35, sold nearly 100 grams of fentanyl to an undercover officer between August and December 2017 — but, in doing so, claimed that the drug was actually heroin.
According to U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, Wickham represented fentanyl as heroin “to buyers on numerous occasions.” Through statements made by witnesses, federal agents determined that the fentanyl sales resulted in two fatal overdoses and one nearly fatal overdose.
“Fentanyl is a killer, and drug pushers have been taking advantage of selling this highly addictive drug, preying on the vulnerabilities of people,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said.
Federal agents raided Wickham’s home on the morning of Feb. 27 and recovered a firearm under his bed, as well as numerous suspected narcotics and various drug paraphernalia, including a scale, plastic bags and hypodermic needles.
Wickham was arraigned later in the day on charges of conspiring to distribute narcotics and distributing narcotics. He faces up to 40 years behind bars if convicted.
Fentanyl, a synthetic drug, is considered to be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It’s one of the many factors in the escalating opioid crisis across the country; drug dealers have been known to mix fentanyl with heroin to deliver a more potent — yet far more dangerous — product.
In January, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown reported that an increase in fentanyl distribution and use led to more suspected fatal drug overdoses (172) than homicides (50) in Queens last year. Nearly a third of the deadly overdoses involved fentanyl.