Juice WRLD's Cause of Death Deferred as Cops Confirm They Met Rapper's Plane to Search for Drugs and Guns
The rapper died early Sunday shortly after having a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport
Authorities still do not have a definitive reason why Juice WRLD, a young rapper who previously toured with Nicki Minaj, died suddenly over the weekend at just 21 years of age, PEOPLE confirms.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office tells PEOPLE that the “Lucid Dreams” musician’s cause of death has officially been deferred pending additional studies, including cardiac pathology, neuropathology, toxicology and histology.
Juice WRLD, whose real name was Jarad Anthony Higgins, died on Sunday shortly after having a seizure at Chicago’s Midway Airport, according to a report from TMZ. He celebrated his 21st birthday last week.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago police were notified that federal agents suspected the plane was carrying “weapons and narcotics” while it was still en route to Midway. TMZ reports that the plane’s pilot was the one to alert authorities that there were guns on board the flight, which is illegal.
After the plane landed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, the 10 passengers on board — including Juice WRLD and his longtime girlfriend, Ally Lotti — were met by agents at the hangar. TMZ reports that at some point between the plane landing and authorities conducting their search, witnesses saw Higgins swallowing several Percocet pills in what they believed was an attempt to hide them.
Then, a drug-sniffing dog made a “positive alert” for bags on two luggage carts, sources told the Chicago Tribune. The outlet reports that the search turned up “41 vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana, six bottles of prescription codeine cough syrup, two 9 mm pistols, a .40-caliber pistol, a high-capacity ammunition magazine and metal-piercing bullets.” TMZ similarly reports that officials confiscated 70 pounds of marijuana from several suitcases that were on board the flight, which they’ve since obtained and shared a photo of.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, police confirmed two men — Chris Long and Henry Dean — were arrested on charges related to the possession of the handguns but have since been released. Long has been charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a firearm, while Dean has been charged with two counts of possession of a firearm and one count of possessing a high-capacity magazine. Long and Dean were not immediately reachable for comment. They are due in court Dec. 30.
As agents were searching the plane, Juice WRLD started convulsing and went into cardiac arrest, the Chicago Tribune reports. When police asked Lotti if her boyfriend had any medical issues or had ingested any drugs, she reportedly replied that Higgins did not have any medical conditions, but that he “takes Percocet and has a drug problem.”
In addition, TMZ reports that several members of Juice WRLD’s team aboard the flight told authorities that he had taken “several unknown pills” prior to the seizures.
According to the Chicago Tribune, an agent administered Higgins two doses of Narcan, which is an emergency treatment used when opioid overdose is suspected. He then “woke up but was incoherent” as paramedics transported him to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at 3:14 a.m.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi previously said there were “no signs of foul play evident to officers,” adding that the individuals who were traveling with Juice WRLD have been cooperating with police.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said they will release a statement regarding Higgins’ cause of death when they’ve completed the additional studies.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.