Two People Charged with Distributing Heroin and Fentanyl Resulting in the Death of Transgender Activist

Cecilia Gentili (Credits: People)

Today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, an indictment was unsealed charging Michael Kuilan and Antonio Venti with distributing heroin and fentanyl, leading to the death of New York transgender activist Cecilia Gentili.

Kuilan also faces charges of unlawful gun possession. Both defendants are currently in custody and are set to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.

United States Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York, along with Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Edward A. Caban, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.

Cecilia Gentili’s death (Credits: CNN)

According to United States Attorney Peace, Cecilia Gentili, a respected activist and leader in the New York transgender community, tragically succumbed to fentanyl-laced heroin in her Brooklyn home.

The suspects allegedly responsible for selling the lethal drugs to Gentili have been apprehended. Peace emphasized the severity of the fentanyl crisis and pledged to vigorously pursue justice for those who have lost loved ones to this deadly substance.

NYPD Commissioner Caban highlighted the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies in combating the illicit drug trade. He underscored the importance of holding drug distributors accountable for their actions and commended the ongoing commitment to this critical mission.

Transgender Activist Cecilia Gentili (Credits: ABC News)

Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarantino of the DEA – New York Division echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the dangers posed by illicit drugs like fentanyl and the need for collective action to address the crisis.

Tarentino praised the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies and reaffirmed their dedication to preventing further tragedies. According to court documents, on February 6, 2024, NYPD officers responded to a 911 call at Gentili’s residence and discovered her lifeless body.

The autopsy revealed that Gentili’s death resulted from a combination of fentanyl, heroin, xylazine, and cocaine. Evidence, including text messages and cell site data, implicated Venti in the sale of the lethal drugs to Gentili, with Kuilan supplying Venti.

Law enforcement officers executed a search at Kuilan’s apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where they discovered numerous baggies of fentanyl, along with a handgun and ammunition.

The charges against the defendants are allegations, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.

The case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Amir leading the prosecution, assisted by Paralegal Specialist Samuel Ronchetti.