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Chicago man convicted of distributing deadly mixture of heroin and fentanyl

Faces life in federal prison

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A man who distributed heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine, which led to several overdoses and deaths was convicted by a federal jury Wednesday, following a six day trial.

Max Julian Wright, 35, of Chicago, Ill., was convicted 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 jury deliberated over three hours. Wright faces life in federal prison.

Evidence at trial showed Wright brought large quantities of heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine from Chicago to Cedar Rapids between 2013 and June 2015. Wright and others, including DeShaun Anderson and Marcus Wallace, both previously convicted, sold the drugs in Cedar Rapids.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate similar to heroin but many times more potent than heroin, according to court testimony.

Testimony showed that by late 2014, the potency of the heroin being sold by Wright and Anderson increased, which led to at least six people overdosing on the drugs. The users who overdosed lost consciousness nearly immediately after using the drugs and had severely reduced breathing function due to the effects of the opiates.

One of the injured victims died two days later as a result of injuries from using the drugs, according to testimony. 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, submitted as evidence at trial, occurred between late February and mid-May of 2015.

Testimony also showed that Wright twice distributed fentanyl during controlled buys conducted by police in May and June 2015. The fentanyl was sold to a heroin customer of Wright’s, and at the time, the customer and police believed the substance was heroin.

U.S. District Judge Leonard T. Strand will set sentencing for Wright after a presentence report is conducted. The mandatory minimum sentence is life and Wright also faces a $12 million fine. He remains in custody pending sentencing.

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