It's no secret that—although the heady Wolf of Wall Street days have passed—cocaine has remained popular among many high-achieving professionals in New York City. Per the Wall Street Journal, those professionals included Ross Mtangi, 40, a trading executive at Credit Suisse Group; Julia Ghahramani, 26, a first-year lawyer with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; and Amanda Scher, 38, a social worker with a master's from NYU. All three ordered cocaine from the same delivery service in March 2021, and they all died. But the cocaine didn't kill them, police said; it was the fentanyl some dealer had added to it.
The three victims were unaware that the cocaine was laced with the synthetic opioid, though someone from the delivery number texted Scher warning, "Hey try not to do too much because it's really strong." The Journal goes on to provide brief profiles of the three young professionals who died, including reflections from family members like Sassan Ghahramani, father of Julia Ghahramani. "Never in a billion years would she have touched anything with fentanyl," he said. "This is like putting bullets in people's brains."
Law enforcement has since tracked down and arrested the dispatcher and courier accused of coordinating those three deals, but the problem is hardly under control. Fentanyl is cheap and easy to make, and while it is commonly found now in heroin and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, dealers have also found that it makes stimulants like cocaine more potent. It's also incredibly deadly: According to the DEA, just 2mg of fentanyl can kill. In 2021, fentanyl overdoses were the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-45, per Fox News, and 2022 may turn out worse. The crisis is certainly not isolated to New York City. As WRAL reports, police in York County, South Carolina, on Monday seized over 65 pounds of fentanyl in a single bust, which the local sheriff said was "enough fentanyl to kill every person in York County," population 273,000. (Read more fentanyl stories.)