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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the unsealing of a complaint charging VICTOR PETERSON, 54, with selling fentanyl-laced heroin that resulted in the death of a 39-year-old Upper West Side man.


The complaint alleges that, on or about October 20, 2016, PETERSON distributed heroin laced with fentanyl that resulted in the death of Kevin Coombs, age 39, of Manhattan. The complaint also alleges that PETERSON sold heroin and crack cocaine to undercover NYPD officers on other occasions. PETERSON was arrested this morning and will be presented today before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott. PETERSON faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison.


Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The opioid abuse epidemic has claimed far too many lives, and 39-year-old Kevin Coombs was one such life cut short. As alleged, Victor Peterson sold the fentanyl-laced heroin that tragically killed Kevin Coombs. Thanks to the outstanding partnership with the DEA and the NYPD, we continue to combat the deadly opioid crisis one alleged drug dealer at a time.”

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt said: “Last year the CDC announced that there were over 52,000 fatal drug overdoses in the US; here in NYC, three people died everyday as a result of a drug overdose. DEA is focusing our enforcement efforts on major heroin and fentanyl distribution organizations, in addition to investigating and arresting the street dealers who sell the fatal dose that takes the life of another.”

Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “The defendant in this case is facing the possibility of life in prison for allegedly selling fentanyl-laced heroin to a 39-year-old man who died of an overdose. Law enforcement is committed to investigating overdoses like this to hold those who sell these deadly opioids criminally responsible. I want to thank the NYPD detectives, DEA agents, and US Attorney Preet Bharara for their work that led to today’s arrest.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] filed in federal court:

Kevin Coombs was found unresponsive by NYPD officers and paramedics on the afternoon of October 21, 2016. Coombs was transported to the hospital, but later died from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. Prior to Coombs’s death, Coombs composed, but did not send, a text message to PETERSON in which Coombs stated, “Man that shit is so good. I literally just finished the last o[n]e.”


An NYPD undercover officer subsequently contacted PETERSON by cellphone and arranged to purchase narcotics. PETERSON sold the undercover officer crack cocaine on three occasions and heroin on one occasion in December 2016 and January 2017.


* * *


PETERSON, 54, of New York, New York, has been charged with one count of narcotics distribution resulting in the death of another, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. PETERSON has also been charged with four counts of narcotics distribution, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.


The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence for the defendant will be determined by the judge.


Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the NYPD and DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad for their investigative efforts and ongoing support and assistance with the case. The Drug Enforcement Administration's Tactical Diversion Squad (Group TDS-NY) comprises agents and officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, and NYC Health and Hospitals Office of the Inspector General.


The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Thomas is in charge of the case.


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 descriptions of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Updated February 10, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-043