Men Charged in Scheme to Distribute Fentanyl-Laced Pills that Caused Overdose Death of Rapper
Three men were named today in a federal grand jury indictment that alleges they distributed narcotics, including counterfeit pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of hip-hop artist Mac Miller.
Cameron James Pettit, 28, of West Hollywood; Stephen Andrew Walter, 46, of Westwood; and Ryan Michael Reavis, 36, a former West Los Angeles resident who relocated to Lake Havasu, Arizona earlier this year, were charged in a three-count indictment.
All three defendants are charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances resulting in death and distribution of fentanyl resulting in death – each of which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a potential sentence of life without parole. Walter alone is charged with being a felon in possession of ammunition, which, if he were to be convicted, would result in a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison.
According to court documents, the three defendants distributed narcotics to 26-year-old Malcolm James McCormick – who recorded and performed under the name Mac Miller – approximately two days before McCormick suffered a fatal drug overdose in Studio City on September 7, 2018. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner later determined that McCormick died of mixed drug toxicity involving fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.
According to the indictment, late on the night of September 4, Pettit agreed to supply McCormick with 10 “blues” – a street term for oxycodone pills – as well as cocaine and the sedative Xanax. But, instead of providing McCormick with genuine oxycodone when he made the delivery during the early morning hours of September 5, Pettit allegedly sold McCormick counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl – a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. The indictment alleges that Pettit ordered the fentanyl-laced pills from Walter, and then Reavis delivered the narcotics to Pettit.
Investigators believe that McCormick died after snorting the counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and that those pills had been provided by Pettit, according to court documents. While another individual allegedly supplied McCormick with other drugs prior to his death, those narcotics did not contain fentanyl, according to court documents.
Less than one month after McCormick’s death, Walter agreed to sell Pettit another 10 “blues,” according to the indictment, which alleges other drug deals between the two men over the course of 2019, with one as recent as August 30.
The indictment further alleges that Reavis was involved in drug trafficking activities in June and quotes a text message he sent after realizing he was negotiating a narcotics transaction with an unknown person that reads, in part: “People have been dying from fake blues left and right, you better believe law enforcement is using informants and undercover to buy them on the street do [sic] they can start putting ppl in prison for life for selling fake pills.”
“It has become increasingly common for us to see drug dealers peddling counterfeit pharmaceuticals made with fentanyl. As a consequence, fentanyl is now the number one cause of overdose deaths in the United States,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “These defendants allegedly continued to sell narcotics after Mr. McCormick’s death with full knowledge of the risks their products posed to human life. We will continue to aggressively target drug dealers responsible for the spread of this dangerous chemical.”
Special Agent in Charge William D. Bodner of the DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division remarked, “Counterfeit pharmaceutical pills are especially dangerous because users are unable to verify what they are ingesting. The tragic death of Mac Miller is a high-profile example of the tragedy that is occurring on the streets of America every day. Today’s indictment highlights the efforts of DEA agents, local law enforcement officers, and prosecutors who work tirelessly to bring dangerous drug dealers to justice.”
Pettit, who was previously ordered detained after being charged in a criminal complaint with distributing narcotics to McCormick, is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on October 10.
Walter was arrested on September 23 pursuant to a criminal complaint alleging conspiracy to distribution narcotics, and he was also ordered held without bond. Walter also is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on October 10.
Reavis was taken into federal custody in Arizona on September 26 on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is currently in custody and is being transported to Los Angeles by the United States Marshals Service.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The ongoing investigation in this matter is being conducted by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s (HIDTA) Opioid Response Team, which operates under the direction of the DEA. The Los Angeles Police Department provided substantial assistance in this matter.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs of the General Crimes Section.