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Buffalo man pleads to fentanyl-laced heroin that took two lives

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National Public Radio

A Buffalo man has pleaded guilty to providing the fentanyl-laced heroin that took the life of two users.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Aaron McDuffie, 23, pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin and butyryl fentanyl causing death, and distribution of fentanyl, butyryl fentanyl and furanyl fentanyl causing death before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Vilardo.

McDuffie now faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum of life and a $1 million fine for selling the lethal doses of the drug combination known as "fire" that took the lives of a 24-year-old Cheektowaga man in 2015 and a 34-year-old West Seneca man in 2016.

"Any entrepreneur who is considering getting into the illicit drug trade must recognize that a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison represents a very significant cost of doing business," said U.S. Attorney James Kennedy. "The reason the price is so steep is because the lives of all people in our community—even those who are broken and addicted—are valuable.  Hopefully, this plea will help to deliver that message.”

“Opioid traffickers fill glassine bags branded with stamps to attract customers, in this case, the highly potent doses were branded with 'Fire,'" said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent-in-Charge James Hunt. "Today’s plea is another step in the process of bringing justice to the family and friends of 'A.E.' and 'D.M.' who overdosed after using 'Fire.'"

The plea is the result of an investigation by the DEA, Cheektowaga Police and West Seneca Police. Sentencing for McDuffie is scheduled for May 30.

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