Third suspect arrested in rapper Mac Miller's drug death investigation

Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

Posted at Sep 27 2019 07:17 AM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles man who prosecutors say supplied the counterfeit oxycodone laced with fentanyl blamed in Mac Miller’s fatal 2018 overdose has been taken into custody on federal drug charges, the third arrest so far stemming from the rapper’s death.

Stephen Andrew “Stevie” Walter was apprehended at his Los Angeles home on Monday and charged with distributing and possessing a controlled substance, U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek said.

Miller, the 26-year-old performer born Malcolm James McCormick, was found unresponsive at his home in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 2018 and later pronounced dead. An autopsy determined that he had suffered an accidental overdose of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol.

Fentanyl is a cheap, relatively easy-to-synthesize opioid painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin that has played a major role in the devastating U.S. opioid crisis.

On Sept. 4, an accused Los Angeles drug dealer, 28-year-old Cameron James Pettit, was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges after prosecutors said he gave 10 pills containing fentanyl to Miller two days before the musician’s death.

Earlier this week, Ryan Reavis, 36, was arrested at his home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, in connection with the investigation. Police said they found marijuana, drug paraphernalia, pills, a doctor’s prescription pad, three guns and ammunition at the residence.

According to an affidavit filed by a U.S. Drug Enforcement agent, investigators believe Pettit obtained the pills from Walter, who used Reavis as a “runner” to deliver them.

Transcripts of text messages between Walter and Pettit making the deal, followed by an exchange between Reavis and Pettit to arrange the delivery, are included in the affidavit.

Prosecutors say that Pettit continued to obtain drugs from Walter after Miller’s death, despite telling a friend that he feared being sent to prison in connection with the rapper’s overdose.Walter, who has a previous conviction on federal drug and firearms charges, was ordered held without bond during a detention hearing in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday. It was not immediately clear if he had retained an attorney.

The Pittsburgh-born Miller gained a following as a teenager and topped the Billboard album charts with his 2011 debut album, “Blue Slide Park.” He was posthumously nominated for a Grammy for his final album, “Swimming.”

Miller dated pop superstar Ariana Grande for about two years before they split in May 2018. Grande sings affectionately about him on her hit single “thank u, next.”

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Marguerita Choy