Linn County Metro

Chicago man gets life sentence for distributing heroin, fentanyl

Deadly mixtures led to several overdoses, deaths in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Chicago man — who distributed heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine that led to several overdoses and deaths in Cedar Rapids in 2015 — to life in prison.

Max Julian Wright, 36, was convicted by a jury following a six-day trial in March on 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.

Evidence at trial showed Wright brought large quantities the drugs to Iowa 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, 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 drug. The users who overdosed lost consciousness nearly immediately after using and had severely reduced breathing function due to the effects of the opiates.

One of the 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. Wright also sold fentanyl to a customer who, along with police, believed the substance to be heroin.

U.S. District Judge Leonard T. Strand sentenced Wright to life on the conspiracy count and ran the 30 years on the distribution counts concurrently. He also ordered Wright to pay $12,371 in restitution to the family of one of the victims.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com