July 23, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Trenton, New Jersey woman today admitted distributing fentanyl that caused the death of a Monmouth county woman, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Tarashanna Blake, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging her with one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl relating to the overdose death of a Monmouth County woman.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On May 15, 2018, a 39-year old woman from Englishtown, referred to in court as Victim-1, texted Blake seeking to buy heroin. Blake and Victim-1 discussed the “stamp” or “brand” of heroin Blake was selling and the purchase price. They agreed to meet at a location around Englishtown to complete the sale. Blake obtained the “CAMEL”-stamped heroin and traveled to the agreed upon location and sold to Victim-1 a controlled substance packaged like heroin, which was later determined to be fentanyl. That afternoon, Englishtown police responded to a location in Englishtown on a report of an overdose death of a female. Upon their arrival, Englishtown police discovered Victim-1, and in Victim-1’s possession were several wax folds of suspected heroin stamped “CAMEL” and empty wax folds stamped “CAMEL.” Laboratory analysis of these wax folds bearing the “CAMEL” stamp determined the substance to be fentanyl, a much more potent narcotic than heroin. An autopsy of Victim-1 found her cause of death to be acute fentanyl toxicity.
For distributing and possessing fentanyl, Blake faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and, because the offense resulted in death, she is subject to significant sentencing enhancements. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 3, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; detectives from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey; the Englishtown Police Department, under the direction of Peter S. Cooke Jr.; and Trenton Police Department’s Narcotics Task Force, under the direction of Acting Police Director Steve Wilson, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan L. O’Neill, of the Office’s Health Care Fraud Unit.
Defense counsel: Laura C. Sayler Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark