A Hollywood Hills man has been charged with selling the rapper Mac Miller counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl two days before the artist died of a drug overdose last September, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
The suspect, Cameron James Pettit, 28, agreed to supply Mr. Miller with oxycodone pills, cocaine and Xanax, according to the criminal complaint filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles. But, instead of providing genuine oxycodone, Mr. Pettit delivered the 26-year-old rapper counterfeit oxycodone that contained fentanyl, a synthetic opiate estimated to be over 50 times as powerful as heroin, according to the complaint.
Two days later, on Sept. 7, 2018, Mr. Miller died in his Studio City home. Mr. Miller, who was born Malcolm James McCormick, had just released his fifth full-length album, “Swimming,” when he died.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner later determined that Mr. Miller had suffered an accidental fatal overdose of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol. Investigators believe that the rapper died after snorting the counterfeit pills.
The complaint offers a window into Mr. Miller’s final days. On Tuesday, Sept. 4 he texted Mr. Pettit requesting drugs. When he did not respond right away, Mr. Miller texted a madam from whom he had previously procured drugs, according to the complaint, which noted that she sent a sex worker to his residence in Studio City, Calif.,
Then Mr. Pettit, from whom Mr. Miller had also previously obtained drugs, responded to Mr. Miller by text, according to the complaint.
Early on Sept. 5, both parties provided Mr. Miller with blue pills that appeared to be oxycodone, among other drugs, according to the complaint. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent later determined that Mr. Miller had crushed and snorted pills from only one source.
All five pills provided by the woman were still in his possession when he died, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. “They were tested and there was no fentanyl,” he said.
It was evident that he had crushed and snorted at least one pill from the other batch, which looked slightly different, according to the complaint. Testing showed that this batch contained fentanyl. Investigators believe that these were the pills provided by Mr. Pettit.
Hours after the rapper’s death was reported on Sept. 7, Mr. Pettit sent a message to a friend saying, “Most likely I will die in jail,” according to the complaint. The Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California, which is representing Mr. Pettit, declined to comment on Wednesday.
Court records show that Mr. Pettit was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2010 for possessing a controlled substance. He was separately sentenced to 30 days that year for brandishing a fake gun in a threatening manner.
If convicted of the drug trafficking charge, Mr. Pettit could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The involvement of fentanyl puts Mr. Miller in the company of other musicians like Prince, Tom Petty and Lil Peep, all of whom died from accidental overdoses involving the drug in recent years. A major component in the growing opiate crisis across the United States, fentanyl is often mixed into black-market supplies of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines.
Mr. Miller was known as a versatile rapper and producer who refused to adhere to one style. Each of his albums debuted in the Top Five of the Billboard chart. He often rapped about substance abuse and spoke openly about his struggles with depression and addiction.
Sheelagh McNeill contributed research.