DETROIT, MI – U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced on May 29th, 2015 that four men have been charged with distributing drugs that resulted in the overdose deaths of three people.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Joseph P. Reagan, and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
The charges are in response to the ongoing epidemic of heroin and prescription pill abuse in the United States and in southeast Michigan. Heroin overdose deaths in the United States have tripled from 2010 to 2013. Since January 1st, 2015, more than 60 people have died by overdose of heroin and fentanyl in Wayne and Washtenaw counties. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication that is 15 to 20 times more potent than heroin. The number of heroin overdose deaths in Oakland County doubled from 2013 to 2014.
The men charged include:
– Zachary R. Burdette, 29, of Ypsilanti
– Roy Edward Brownlee, 49, of Ypsilanti
– Kenyatta Akili McConico, 36, of Detroit, and
– Charlie Stevens, 24, of Beverly Hills.
Burdette was charged in a criminal complaint with distributing a deadly mix of heroin and fentanyl to a 27 year old Ypsilanti Township man who died on April 5th, 2015. The man died of a heroin/fentanyl overdose, and he was found by his mother in his home slumped over on his bed with a syringe in his hand. Burdette had supplied the man with a tenth of a gram of heroin laced with fentanyl.
Brownlee was charged in a separate but related indictment. The indictment charged Brownlee with supplying the heroin/fentanyl mix to Burdette that was subsequently sold to the overdose victim. In addition, Brownlee is charged with possessing and supplying an assault rifle and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
Another indictment from a separate investigation charged McConico with distributing heroin that resulted in the March 19th, 2015, overdose death of a 35-year-old woman from Redford Township.
A third indictment charged Stevens with distributing Vicodin pills to an 18-year-old man from Franklin. The man died of an overdose from the Vicodin on June 25, 2011, when he was discovered in his home by his family.
Burdette, Brownlee and McConico face up to life in prison and a $1 million fine because of their roles in the heroin overdose deaths. Stevens faces up to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for distributing Vicodin that resulted in death. Indictments and complaints are only charges, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial. Sentences are determined by the judges assigned to the cases based on sentencing guidelines, relevant sentencing statutes and other factors.
United States Attorney McQuade said, “We have made it a priority to prosecute the distribution of heroin resulting in death. Heroin is poison, and overdose deaths are foreseeable to the criminals who sell it.
These charges send a strong message that heroin traffickers face severe consequences for the real harm that they inflict on our residents and our families.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Reagan said, “DEA will continue to focus our resources on the drug violators such as these, who prey on our communities.”
These cases were investigated by agents, officers, and investigators from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, the Office of the Oakland County Medical Examiner, the Redford Township Police Department, and the Office of the Wayne County Medical Examiner. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William Sauget, Kenneth Chadwell, and Andrea Hutting.