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Justice News

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Two Service Members Charged With Distributing Narcotics To Overdose Victim At Electric Zoo Music Festival In 2018

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the arrests of LAGARIA SLAUGHTER and TANNER HOWELL, both of whom are service members stationed at a base in New York State, and the unsealing of a Complaint charging SLAUGHTER and HOWELL with distributing Molly on September 1, 2018, to a young woman attending the Electric Zoo music festival in New York, who subsequently died of a drug overdose.  The Complaint also charges SLAUGHTER with conspiring to distribute Molly and LSD between May 2018 and March 2019.  SLAUGHTER and HOWELL were arrested this morning and will be presented later today in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Lagaria Slaughter and Tanner Howell supplied the dangerous drug Molly to a young concert-goer, who overdosed and died after using Molly and other drugs.  Tragically, this is not the first time my Office has charged people in connection with the overdose death of a concert-goer at the Electric Zoo festival.  Today’s arrests should serve as a dual-purpose reminder:  To those who peddle dangerous and potentially lethal drugs, this Office and the NYPD are committed to apprehending and prosecuting you.  To prospective users of these drugs, there is nothing ‘recreational’ about drugs that can kill you.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “The NYPD is committed to bringing those who commit these acts to justice. I commend the members of the Detective Borough Bronx Overdose Squad, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District, and the FBI, who dedicated themselves to help move this case forward.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:

On September 1, 2018, a young woman (“Victim-1”) began experiencing the effects of a drug overdose after using drugs while attending the Electric Zoo music festival (the “Festival”) on Randall’s Island in Manhattan.  Victim-1 died on September 3, 2018, after being treated for the overdose at a hospital in Manhattan.  Following an investigation by the NYPD, law enforcement identified SLAUGHTER and HOWELL, both members of the U.S. military stationed at a base located in New York State (the “Base”), as individuals who distributed Molly (3,4-methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine) to Victim-1 on September 1, 2018, while she was attending the Festival and shortly before she fatally overdosed.  Medical records show that Victim-1’s death was caused by acute intoxication from the combined effects of multiple drugs, including Molly.

Days earlier, SLAUGHTER had organized a trip to New York City with other service members to attend the Festival.  At that time, SLAUGHTER was involved in trafficking both Molly and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).  From May 2018 to March 2019, SLAUGHTER worked with others to sell Molly and LSD to customers on and off the Base.  While in New York City for the Festival, SLAUGHTER and another individual met HOWELL at a nightclub.  HOWELL told SLAUGHTER that he was going to the Festival the following day with a large group of friends and they wanted to buy Molly to take while at the Festival.  SLAUGHTER agreed to supply the Molly for distribution to the group.  The following day, September 1, 2018, HOWELL arranged to purchase 57 capsules of Molly from SLAUGHTER, at a total price of $560.  SLAUGHTER and another individual traveled to the Festival to sell the Molly.  HOWELL had two female members of his group – Victim-1 and her friend – meet SLAUGHTER and the other individual outside the concert entrance to retrieve the Molly to be used by the group.  HOWELL paid for the Molly via electronic payment, and SLAUGHTER provided the 57 capsules of Molly to Victim-1 and her friend.  Upon completion of the transaction, Victim-1 and her friend entered the Festival with the Molly.  Victim-1 overdosed later that day and died two days later. 

On April 24, 2019, law enforcement searched SLAUGHTER’s barracks at the Base.  Law enforcement recovered, among other things, approximately 10 capsules of Molly, 55 doses of LSD, and drug packaging materials.  Text messages recovered from SLAUGHTER’s cellphone show SLAUGHTER offering to sell hundreds of capsules of Molly to other service members on the Base. 

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SLAUGHTER, 25, of Jefferson County, New York, is charged with one count of conspiring to distribute Molly and LSD, and one count of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute Molly.  Both counts carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

HOWELL, 22, of Jefferson County, New York, is charged with one count of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute Molly, 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 sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Dominic A. Gentile and Peter J. Davis are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are 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.


Project Safe Neighborhoods
James Margolin, Nicholas V. Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
Updated December 10, 2019