WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two men from upstate laced their heroin with a powerful anesthetic, stuffed it into packets stamped “Breaking Bad” and sold it around the Hudson Valley, resulting in at least three fatal overdoses, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Dennis Sica, 36, of Hopewell Junction, and John Rohlman, 25, of Pawling, were charged with narcotics conspiracy at federal court in White Plains. Because their alleged crime resulted in deaths, they would face a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
Calls to their lawyers were not immediately returned.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the defendants added fentanyl to the heroin they were selling, which was “like adding bullets to a revolver before playing Russian roulette.” He described fentanyl as 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
According to the complaint, the “Breaking Bad” heroin — the stamp even included the logo of the TV series about a meth kingpin — killed 20-year-old Anthony Delello of Beekman in late December. Bharara said Delello was weeks away from basic training with the Air National Guard.
EXTRA: Read The Complaint
Prosecutors said they found text messages that reveal the defendants learned of Delello’s death but kept selling the drug. One witness said they were selling about 250 grams of heroin per day, according to the complaint.
“They continued to promote their heroin as being ‘ridiculously good’ and ‘the best I’ve had in months,'” Bharara said. “They also sought, as the complaint alleges and as the charge depicts, to cover their tracks, instructing each other to ‘erase every message out of my phone’ because of what had happened to the kid.”
On Feb. 1, Thomas Miller, 31, of Pawling was found dead with several “Breaking Bad” packets near his body, Bharara said. His death was attributed to the combined effects of heroin and fentanyl.
The same day, in New Milford, Connecticut, Laura Brown was found dead with “Breaking Bad” packets around her, he said.
James Hunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration said Mexican trafficking organizations are flooding the Northeast with heroin, “leaving tragic overdose deaths in the cartel’s wakes.”
Dutchess County district attorney William Grady said prosecutors wanted to bring the case in federal court because state penalties are more lenient. He said the defendants could be sentenced to a drug diversion program or even probation if convicted under New York law.
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