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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Drug Dealer Charged With Causing December 2016 Overdose Death In The Bronx

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrest and unsealing of a Complaint charging THAYSHIKA TORRES with distributing the heroin and fentanyl that resulted in a non-fatal overdose and a subsequent fatal overdose of Elizabeth Stephens in December 2016.  The Complaint also alleges that TORRES distributed heroin between September 2016 and December 2016.  TORRES was arrested this morning by the NYPD, and will be presented later today before U.S. Magistrate James L. Cott in Manhattan federal court. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Thayshika Torres sold the heroin that resulted in the non-fatal overdose of Elizabeth Stephens on December 2, 2016.  Then, just three weeks later, Torres allegedly sold Stephens a dose of fentanyl that ended her life.  Working with the NYPD, we will continue to target anyone who sells these dangerous drugs in New York City, from large-scale international drug traffickers to street-corner dealers.”

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The NYPD, in close collaboration with all of our law enforcement partners, are relentless in pursuing anyone who illegally sells narcotics and preys on people’s vulnerabilities.  It is imperative that we save as many lives as possible while combatting this opioid crisis that knows no boundaries – which touches every aspect of our society, regardless of race, occupation, or economic status.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:

On December 2, 2016, Elizabeth Stephens, a 39-year-old resident of the Bronx, suffered a non-lethal overdose from heroin inside the apartment building in which TORRES was living.  Emergency Medical Services personnel revived Stephens and brought her to the emergency room.  Just hours after Stephens’s December 2 overdose, she sent a text message to TORRES asking TORRES to “let people know that stuff is strong.” 

On December 23, 2016, Stephens suffered a fatal overdose in the same apartment building.  That morning, Stephens placed three phone calls to TORRES between approximately 10:56 a.m. and 11:57 a.m.  These were the last outgoing calls placed from Stephens’s phone.  Less than an hour after the last call, at approximately 12:49 p.m., a resident of TORRES’s apartment building found Stephens lying outside the elevator in a hallway three floors above TORRES’s apartment.  Shortly thereafter, Stephens was pronounced dead at a local hospital.  An autopsy revealed that Stephens died from a lethal dose of opioids. 


TORRES also sold heroin to undercover officers and confidential informants both before and after Stephens’s overdoses, including on September 2, 2016, October 18, 2017, October 24, 2017, February 22, 2018, and February 27, 2018.  Laboratory testing confirmed that the heroin TORRES sold on October 18 and 24, 2017, also contained fentanyl. 

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TORRES, 37, of the Bronx, is charged with two counts of distribution and possession with intent to distribute heroin.  TORRES faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count based upon her distribution of the heroin that led to Elizabeth Stephens’s non-fatal overdose on December 2, 2016, and her distribution of the fentanyl that led to Stephens’s fatal overdose on December 23, 2016.

The statutory maximum and minimum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for information purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD in this case. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie Lake is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Press Release Number: 
Updated May 9, 2018