Federal prosecutors say a pair of Washington, DC dealers tried to get rid of a bad batch of fentanyl-laced crack cocaine — which they knew had already killed at least one customer — by holding a “flash sale.”
On January 28, Sheldon Marbley and Shameka Hayes parked a Mazda on the corner of Half and O streets and sold drugs that resulted in 14 people overdosing, according to an affidavit filed in DC federal court. Nine of the customers — who were between the ages of 43 and 74 — died.
Police say they have surveillance video that shows Hayes with a woman while she overdosed on January 26, and then again with her as she overdosed again on the morning of January 28. The second time the woman overdosed, she died, the affidavits said.
“Then, on January 28th, after Defendant Hayes was present for the lethal overdose of the female victim who she was ‘staying with,’ CCTV footage shows that Defendant Hayes traveled to Half and O, where she and Defendant Marbley engaged in what can only be described as a ‘flash sale’ of narcotics to multiple customers,” the affidavit says.
The sale lured customers, many of them senior citizens, to the Mazda, prosecutors say.
Several of those customers would later overdose as well.
Police obtained CCTV footage from that intersection that showed at least eight of the overdose victims visiting the Mazda registered to Hayes immediately before they overdosed, according to the affidavit.
Two of the overdose victims told police that they had been buying crack from the pair for years, but on January 28, it was “packaged differently” in small capsules, according to the affidavit.
Authorities tested some of these capsules, which were found at the apartment where one of the victims died, and found they were positive for fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Marbley and Hayes were arrested Friday. On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui ordered them held without bail.
A message seeking comment from Hayes’ attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday. An attorney was not identified for Marbley in public court records.
Fentanyl is used by manufacturers of illicit drugs to cut their supply.
The synthetic drug is much cheaper to produce and lighter to transport, so it is economically beneficial for those producing the drugs, drug policy experts previously told Insider.
While the presence of fentanyl in other opioids, like heroin or illicit pain pills, has been a well-known threat in certain parts of the country for the last five years, it’s now starting to show up in less suspecting street drugs like cocaine and cannabis — either through cross contamination or by intent.
It’s also now making it’s way into the Black community for the first time, Philip Rutherford, Chief Operating Officer at the nonprofit Faces & Voices of Recovery, recently told Insider.
In the early days of the opioid epidemic, it was largely white Americans who were dying from opioids — which were getting into the hands of users or dealers through health care providers in the form of pain killers.
“Because in the Black community, access to quality healthcare is systemically a problem, the group was probably protected a little bit from pill form of opioids,” he said.