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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chicago Man Sentenced to Life for Conspiring to Distribute Heroin and Fentanyl That Caused Multiple Deaths and Overdoses

A man who conspired to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine that led to several overdoses and deaths in Cedar Rapids in 2015 was sentenced yesterday to life in federal prison.

Max Julian Wright, age 36, from Chicago, Illinois, received the prison term after a March 2, 2016 jury verdict finding him guilty of two counts of distribution of fentanyl and one count of conspiring to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl that resulted in six serious bodily injuries and two deaths.

The evidence at trial showed that, between about 2013 and June 2015, Wright brought large quantities of heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine from Chicago to Cedar Rapids.  Wright and other individuals, including DeShaun Anderson and Marcus Wallace, sold the drugs to various users in Cedar Rapids.  Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate similar to heroin, but many times more potent than heroin.  Witness testimony showed that by at least late 2014, the potency of the heroin being sold by Wright and Anderson increased, which led to at least six individuals immediately overdosing on the drugs.  Testimony showed the users who overdosed lost consciousness nearly immediately after using the drugs, and had severely reduced breathing function due to the effects of the opiate drugs.  One of the injured victims died two days later from the injuries sustained from using the drugs.  Another victim died in early April of a mixed-drug overdose that included a toxic level of fentanyl in the victim’s blood.  All of the deaths and overdose injuries found by the jury occurred between late February and mid-May of 2015.

Wright was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Wright was sentenced to life imprisonment on the conspiracy count and 30 years’ imprisonment on the distribution counts, all of which were ordered to run concurrently.  A special assessment of $300 was imposed and he was ordered to make $12,371 in restitution to the family of one of the victims.  If he is ever released from prison, he must serve an 8-year term of supervised release.  There is no parole in the federal system.

Wright is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program of the United States Department of Justice through a cooperative effort of the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force consisting of the DEA; the Cedar Rapids Police Department; the Linn County Sheriff's Office; the Marion Police Department; the Iowa City Police Department; and the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Linn County Medical Examiner’s Office, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Chatham and Patrick Reinert.

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. 

The case file number is 15-CR-00046-LRR.

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Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated July 12, 2016