Delaware's first fentanyl indictment: New Castle man sentenced to 24 years in prison



Nick Perez - Delaware Online

A 31-year-old New Castle man will spend 24 years in prison for selling a Pennsylvania woman fentanyl-laced heroin that resulted in her death.

Donte "Half" Jacobs was the first person from Delaware to be charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl that resulted in the death of another person. A federal jury found him guilty in September following a three-day trial.

Prosecutors are increasingly using that charge nationwide in the fight against heroin and opioid addiction.

The purpose of the charge is largely to target those supplying people with drugs and the deadly effects of this distribution. 

"I know the pain that her family feels," Jacobs said Friday morning during his sentencing hearing.

Jacobs' sentence was the longest fentanyl-related sentence in Delaware's federal court. The previous longest was 20 years, prosecutors told the court.

The case against Jacobs began in June 2016 when the 26-year-old woman, listed in court documents by the initials TA, was found dead in her bedroom.

Federal agents found her with a tourniquet on her arm, a needle on the floor and two empty baggies labeled "BUTTER," according to an affidavit.

Detectives also found her cellphone nearby and 52 more bags of what they believed was heroin in her purse, the affidavit said. The bags were tested and contained only fentanyl, according to the document.

TA's boyfriend told police she was using approximately five bundles, or 65 bags, of heroin every day for at least three years, despite his pleas for her to stop, the affidavit said.

Her boyfriend agreed to cooperate with police and to arrange to meet her dealer at the Christiana Mall under the guise that he wanted to buy heroin for her, the affidavit said.

The deal went down – and the boyfriend purchased five bundles of the same drugs marked "BUTTER." The dealer was arrested and, in an interview with police, turned on his supplier, who he claimed was Jacobs, the affidavit said.

The dealer told police Jacobs was delivering 50 logs, or 6,500 bags of heroin, to him and others in New Castle on a weekly basis, the affidavit said. He would either make the delivery in a dark-colored minivan or using the Uber car service, the records said.

Through the FaceTime phone app, the dealer arranged to meet Jacobs the following morning for another delivery, the affidavit said.

The dealer told Jacobs on the recorded phone call that someone "checked" on the drugs, which means someone died. He asked if the person was a "big spender," the affidavit said.

In another call, Jacobs encouraged the dealer to continue selling the fentanyl that caused the overdose and to spin it as a good thing to the clients, the affidavit said.

The two arranged for a delivery in July 2016, but Jacobs said he was unsure if he would be able to come, the affidavit said.

A judge gave the go-ahead for prosecutors to search Jacobs' phone, check cell tower data and use other investigative techniques.

Police tracked Jacobs to his grandmother's house on the first block of Dunning Court in New Castle. Jacobs was arrested and was found with three cellphones and a white piece of paper that authorities claim was an "owe sheet" used to track the names of 25 to 30 people he sold to, the affidavit said.

Court documents show law enforcement also found $600 inside the home. A firearm was also seized by federal agencies two weeks later.

He waited nearly three years in federal custody for trial. Jacobs argued he was denied his right to a speedy trial so a federal judge briefly dismissed his charges in July 2019 for a re-indictment.

A few months later, a federal jury found him guilty of conspiracy and drug distribution charges. Jacobs also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm while being a felon.

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