Three New Yorkers Ordered Cocaine from a Delivery Service, but Died of Fentanyl

Ross Mtangi, Julia Ghahramani, and Amanda Scher used the same drug delivery service to order cocaine.

But they all died of a fentanyl overdose.

Three wealthy New Yorkers with one thing in common: their source of drugs.

They used a DoorDash-like delivery service the same day in March 2021, and all died of a drug – but the wrong drug compared to what they thought they were taking.

It’s not uncommon for dealers to cut cocaine with fentanyl, to be more potent and addictive, and fentanyl overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years. In New York Alone, of 980 cocaine deaths in 2020, 81% involved fentanyl, according to NYC health department data. The city has warned people about the increased danger of fentanyl-cut cocaine and has sent posters and coasters to clubs to warn cocaine users to start with a small dose and to have naloxone on hand (to counteract an overdose). They are handing out fentanyl testing strips used to test cocaine and other drugs for fentanyl’s presence.

Fentanyl is an extraordinarily potent and dangerous drug; if someone doesn’t realize they’re taking it, it can be fatal.

That night, a text sent to Ghahramani from the delivery service read, “Hey, try not to do too much because it’s really strong.” She then missed seven calls from that number – because, of course, she was dead.

A stay-at-home dad from rural New Jersey that police believe is responsible for all three deaths, Billy Ortega, has pleaded not guilty to causing the overdose deaths and distributing drugs and is awaiting trial.


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